LOS ANGELES -- Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein stomped the Olsen twins in the first major box-office contest of the summer blockbuster season.
The monster-hunting adventure "Van Helsing," starring Hugh Jackman as a creature slayer, opened at No. 1 with $54.2 million.
Mary-Kate and Ashley's comedy "New York Minute," a major test of the direct-to-video starlets' theatrical prowess as they near age 18, debuted in fourth place with $6.2 million -- a weak showing compared to the popularity of other recent teen comedies such as "13 Going on 30" and "Mean Girls."
"Mean Girls" fell to second place in its second week with $14 million, while Denzel Washington's "Man on Fire" continued its robust run with $7.9 million in its third week, raising its total to $56 million, according to studio estimates yesterday.
"Van Helsing" also earned $53 million internationally after opening simultaneously in 41 countries, according to Universal Pictures, which released the movie.
The first-weekend ticket sales landed between director Stephen Sommers's two previous monster smashes -- "The Mummy," which had $43.3 million in 1999, and "The Mummy Returns," which had $68.1 million in 2001.
The movie received a huge franchise push from Universal, accompanied by a "Van Helsing" video game, an animated DVD prequel "Van Helsing: The London Assignment," and a "Van Helsing"-themed haunted-house attraction at Universal Studios theme park.
"It's celebration time," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal.
"New York Minute" failed to build an older teen following on top of the Olsens' core fan base of very young children. About 80 percent of the tickets went to girls under the age of 11, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the comedy.