Lizard legs wobbly

'Godzilla' licks its B.O. wounds

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.

Sony’s “Godzilla” landed with a thud in its second weekend, tumbling a mighty 59% to $18 million, according to studio estimates.

Even that number may prove to be overly optimistic, as many B.O. observers predicted the monster mash would come in at closer to $17 million when all the ticket stubs are counted today.

Either way, the Matthew Broderick starrer finished its 13th day just shy of $100 million and now appears on track to top out at less than $150 million in its North American run.

In percentage terms, “Godzilla’s” falloff wasn’t dramatically sharper than the 53% second-weekend drop suffered by last year’s Memorial Day opener, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” However, “Lost World’s” sophomore take was $34.1 million, about twice that of “Godzilla.”

‘Hope’ for Bullock

In second place, 20th Century Fox’s “Hope Floats” lifted off with a surprisingly buoyant $14.6 million. The Sandra Bullock starrer opened in 2,387 locations for an airy $6,116 average.

“Everybody at Fox is floating,” said Tom Sherak, chairman of 20th Domestic Film Group.

As expected, the audience for the Forest Whitaker-helmed romantic drama was disproportionately female, with both younger and older women represented. Exit poll results were promising, according to Sherak, with more than 76% of those surveyed saying they would “definitely recommend” the film.

Ironically, Fox reportedly agreed to make “Hope Floats” in exchange for Bullock’s participation in the ostensibly more commercial “Speed 2.” It now appears that the modestly budgeted “Floats” will sail into the black, whereas the costly “Speed” sequel sank in a sea of red ink.

Ideally, “Hope Floats” could continue to play off as counterprogramming against the more macho summer offerings, much as “My Best Friend’s Wedding” did last summer. But given the picture’s one-sided gender appeal and mixed critical reaction, significant drop-offs are probably in its future.

Top films net $69 million

Despite strong holds by Paramount’s “Deep Impact” and Buena Vista’s “The Horse Whisperer,” the weekend total for films grossing $500,000 or more came only to an estimated $69 million. That’s a drop of 31% from the Friday-Sunday portion of the previous holiday weekend. The tally was down just 4% from a year earlier.

Distributors refrained from opening any wide-appeal event pics over the weekend, anticipating “Godzilla” would dominate the market for a second frame. When distributors gave “Lost World” a similar wide berth last year, the theatrical market stalled for several weeks and didn’t recover its momentum until late summer.

Miramax’s urban comedy “I Got the Hook-Up” reached out and touched $3.3 million in 655 phone booths over the weekend, dialing up a solid $5,030 average. The broad R-rated comedy, which stars rapper Mastr P, has cumed $4.4 million since its Wednesday debut.

In seventh place, Warner Bros.’ “Almost Heroes” failed to find an audience. The broad comedy, starring the late Chris Farley and Matthew Perry as hapless North American explorers, grossed just $2.8 million in 2,048 expeditions or $1,367 per venture. The pic, produced by the short-lived Turner Pictures studio, was picked up by WB when Time-Warner and Turner merged.

‘Disco’ inferno

Among limited openers, Castle Rock and Gramercy’s “The Last Days of Disco” boogied to a solid $280,000. The Whit Stillman-helmed romance, set in the club scene of the early 1980s, made its debut at 22 nightspots in 11 North American cities for a $12,741 average. A sizable Saturday bump of 54% seems to indicate the film appeals mostly to older auds — ones old enough to remember the film’s milieu.

“We got our foot in the door,” said Castle Rock president Martin Shafer, who added that the film will expand slowly over the next few weeks, to a maximum of 500 playdates. While the exclusive opening was fueled almost entirely by reviews and print ads, the company plans to target upscale adults with TV spots as the picture widens its run.