“I thought the story line was good without any exposure to it previously,” said Joanne Yoon, 26, a high school teacher. “It’s a very good movie. I know some of it is not true, but it was actually a good history lesson.” Kelsey Robinson, carrying a half-read hardback copy of “Da Vinci,” had decided to see “Mission: Impossible III” with boyfriend Ren Peterson because she wanted to finish the book before she takes in the movie. “I really wanted to go today, but I didn’t finish (the book) until last weekend so she hadn’t had a chance to read it,” said Peterson, 23, a music teacher. “I never read books at all, but my mom was saying, `You really have to read this book.”‘ Meanwhile, “Hedge” is now the dominant family movie in the marketplace, which was the strategy behind distributor Paramount Pictures’ decision to counter-program opposite “Da Vinci.” “I thought the numbers were excellent, and we are pleased with the way this sets the movie up for Memorial Day weekend and the early part of the summer,” said Don Harris, Paramount’s executive vice president of distribution and general sales manager. “Mission: Impossible III,” the No. 1 movie the previous two weekends, took third place with an estimated gross of $11 million. Although the film’s grosses have been lower than expected, “Mission” still managed to become the 14th movie starring Tom Cruise to reach at least $100 million in domestic ticket sales. It has taken in $103.2 million to date in the U.S. and Canada. Warner Bros.’ “Poseidon” took fourth place as the disaster film continued to quickly sink with a 56 percent drop in ticket sales compared to last weekend. “Poseidon” added $9.2 million to its coffers for a two-week total of $36.8 million. Rounding out the top five was Sony’s “RV,” the comedy starring Robin Williams. It took in $5.1 million and has grossed $50.4 million to date. [email protected] (818) 713-3758 TOP MOVIES Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Final figures will be released Monday. 1. “The Da Vinci Code,” $77 million. 2. “Over the Hedge,” $37.2 million 3. “Mission: Impossible III,” $11 million. 4. “Poseidon,” $9.2 million. 5. “RV,” $5.1 million 6. “See No Evil,” $4.4 million 7. “Just My Luck,” $3.4 million. 8. “An American Haunting,” $1.7 million. 9. “United 93,” $1.4 million. 10. “Akeelah and the Bee,” $1 million.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“To be in this stratosphere is absolutely incredible,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of domestic distribution. “Audiences have spoken and are really enjoying the movie.” Moviegoers age 30 and younger made up more than half the audience. Bruer also said that, surprisingly, about half the audience had not yet read the book. With the Dreamworks Animation film “Over the Hedge” debuting in a strong second place with an estimated $37.2 million in ticket sales, the combined grosses of the top 12 films was only slightly less than the same weekend last year, when “Sith” alone took in $108 million. But the total could inch up when final box office figures are released today. “This is kind of the perfect summer at the box office with two movies chasing different audiences and both succeeding well,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co. “The critics certainly weren’t kind to (“Da Vinci”) but audiences heard so much about it, so how could they not see it? The controversy and the protests only helped to sell the movie.” Many moviegoers attending the film’s sold-out 4:15 p.m. Saturday showing at The Grove in Los Angeles said they had not read the book but wanted to see for themselves what all the buzz was about. The highly-anticipated thriller “The Da Vinci Code” overcame critical pans and protests from religious groups to achieve the second-largest worldwide opening ever and the biggest opening of the year nationally, according to studio estimates Sunday. Based on the best seller by Dan Brown, the controversial film earned $147 million in foreign ticket sales – including record openings in Italy and Spain – and $77 million in the United States. With overall grosses adding up to $224 million, “Da Vinci” is second only to “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” which took in $253 million worldwide when it was released the same weekend a year ago. “Da Vinci” provided Sony Pictures Entertainment with its sixth No. 1 release of 2006 and represented career box office highs for star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard, whose previous biggest openings were “Cast Away” for Hanks ($39.8 million) and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for Howard ($55 million).