nicolas_cage4.jpgMONDAY AM: Ghost Rider gunned the Marvel / Sony marketing engine for No. 1 as the biggest Presidents Day Weekend opening ever by a big margin. It sped to a whopping $44.5 million for Fri-Sat-Sun and $51.5 mil for the four-day holiday. Even though critics were lukewarm at best about the action film based on the popular Marvel comic book, it beat previous record holder 50 First Dates ($45.1 mil for the four-day holiday). Ghost Rider is the biggest film opening so far in 2007 — and Nicolas Cage’s biggest since 2003’s National Treasure because he’s been in a slump at the box office. Audience breakdown for the film is 62% male and 38% female with 55% under age 25 and 45% are age 25 and older. On the other hand, newcomer Walden / Disney’s children’s fantasy Bridge To Terabithia received wonderful reviews which propelled it into 2nd place for the weekend with $22.2 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun and $27.6 mil for the four-day holiday. With the long weekend stretching ahead of parents, the pic received a nice Saturday and Sunday kiddie bounce. DreamWorks’ one-week holdover Norbit starring Eddie Murphy in multi-roles was the surprise No. 3 considering that five new films came into the marketplace, all of which made over $10 mil for the three-day weekend. (Its cume as of Monday is $62.7 mil.) Pic made $16.8 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun and $20.7 mil for the four-day holiday.

Day by day, Ghost Rider raked in $15.5 mil Fri, $17.4 mil Sat, $12.5 mil Sun and an estimated $6.5 mil Mon from 3,619 theaters. Bridge To Terabithia took in $6.3 mil Fri, $9 mil Sat, $7.1 mil Sun, and an est $5.2 mil Mon at 3,139 venues. Norbit made $4.4 mil Fri, $6.9 mil Sat, $5.3 mil Sun and an est $3.5 mil Mon. Warner’s chick flick romance Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore after a Valentine’s Day debut mustered only 4th place, taking in $4 mil Fri, $6.9 mil Sat, $3.8 mil Sun, and an est $2.3 mil Mon from 2,955 theaters. bridgetoterabithia.jpgPic made $15.8 mil for 4-day holiday weekend and $13 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun. Also opening February 14th was Lionsgate’s Daddy’s Little Girl, another comedy from Tyler Perry, which finished 5th Fri with $2.9 mil, Sat $5 mil, Sun $3.2 mil, Mon an est $1.6 mil from 2,111 theaters. Pic took in $12.8 mil for 4-day holiday weekend and $11.8 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun. In 7th place was Universal’s spy thriller Breach which earned solid reviews, helping it to open with $2.9 mil Fri, $4.3 mil Sat, $3.2 mil Sun and an est $1.8 mil Mon in only 1,489 venues. Pic earned $12.3 mil for the four-day holiday weekend and $10.6 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun. Weinstein / MGM’s disappointing Hannibal Rising continued to slide its 2nd week out, taking in just $1.5 mil Fri, $2.1 mil Sat, $1.7 mil Sun, and an est $900K Mon despite screening in 3,003 theaters. (Its cume is now only $22.9 mil.) Pic eked out $6.3 mil for the four-day holiday weekend and $5.2 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun.

In 8th place, Universal’s three week out chick flick Because I Said So starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore made $1.4 mil Fri, $2 mil Sat, $1.6 mil, and an est $900K Mon from 2,446 venues. (Its cume is now $34.2 mil.) Pic had $6 mil for the 4-day holiday weekend and $4.2 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun. Screen Gems / Sony’s The Messenger thriller squeezed out another $1.1 mil Fri, $1.5 mil Sat, $1.1 mil Sun, and an est $600K Mon from 2,183 playdates its third week out. (Its cume is now $31.1 mil.) Pic took in $4.4 mil for the four-day holiday weekend and $3.7 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun. And, rounding out the Top 10 movies, Fox’s juggernaut Night At The Museum, with Ben Stiller, managed another $850K Fri, $1.6 mil Sat, $1.2 mil Sun and an est $700K Mon from 2,042 theaters — even though it has been around for 9 weeks. (Its cume is now $238 mil.) Pic took in $4.4 mil for the four-day holiday weekend and $3.8 mil for Fri-Sat-Sun.