By Todd Peterson
Updated April 05, 2004 05:39 PM

It was a successful weekend for demons at theaters around the country. While Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” has dominated ticket sales in recent weeks, the forces of evil struck back this weekend with “Hellboy,” which debuted atop the box office with more than $23 million.

“Hellboy’s” comic-book superhero is not exactly a bad guy. The film centers on a demon (played by Ron Perlman) who is raised to fight evil forces — until he almost gives in to them himself.

“Walking Tall,” the remake of a 1973 movie starring The Rock, came in second place with $15.3 million. The film finished just ahead of last week’s top film, “Scooby-Doo 2,” which ended the weekend in the third with $15.1 million, the Associated Press reports.

All in all, it was a very successful weekend at the box office, with the top five movies each pulling in more than $10 million — impressive figures for what is usually a slow movie-going time of the year.

“This weekend was like the classic movie-goers’ weekend,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box-office sales, told the Associated Press. “You had all these different genres represented.”

In addition to the action of “Hellboy” and “Walking Tall,” there was family-friendly fare such as the animated Disney flick “Home on the Range,” which finished in the fourth slot. More cerebral films such as the Coen brothers’ “The Ladykillers” and Jim Carrey’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” also were represented.

The top 10 movies as compiled by Exhibitor Relations are as follows:

1. “Hellboy,” $23.5 million
2. “Walking Tall,” $15.3 million
3. “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” $15.1 million
4. “Home on the Range,” $14 million
5. “The Prince and Me,” $10 million
6. “The Passion of the Christ,” $9.9 million
7. “The Ladykillers,” $7 million
8. “Jersey Girl,” $5.1 million
9. “Dawn of the Dead,” $4.4 million
10. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” $3.6 million