'Return Of The King' Continues Its Reign At Box Office

Final installment of trilogy has earned $224 million in two weeks.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" continued its reign over the

holiday weekend, taking in $51.2 million, according to studio estimates, helping to

cap a record holiday haul.

The final installment of the epic trilogy has earned $224 million since its

opening two weeks ago and has passed the $200 million mark a day faster than

its predecessor, "The Two Towers." "King" has grossed $492.1 million worldwide

to date, leading industry pundits to predict it could follow "Titanic" as only the second worldwide $1 billion-grossing movie ever.

Though it had some solid competition from a number of new flicks, Aragorn,

Frodo and the gang raked in more on Christmas Day ($14.6 million) than all but

one of Hollywood's latest offerings.

The bright spot among the fresh faces was the Steve Martin comedy "Cheaper by

the Dozen," which came in at #2 on estimated grosses of $28.2 million. The widely

hailed $80 million Nicole Kidman/ Jude Law Civil War drama, "Cold Mountain,"

recently nominated for eight Golden Globes (see " 'Cold Mountain' Tops List Of Golden Globe Nominees"), opened in third place with $14.5 million.

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton kept the grown-ups coming as their comedy,

"Something's Gotta Give," slipped a spot to #4 on grosses of $14.2 million. Ben

Affleck's action flick "Paycheck," his first effort since this summer's disastrous "Gigli," slid into fifth place with $13.9 million, followed by Julia Roberts' "Mona Lisa Smile" ($11.5 million) and the live-action "Peter Pan," which opened disappointingly at #7 on $11.4 million in ticket sales.

Rounding out the top 10 are "The Last Samurai" at #8 with $8.4 million; "Bad

Santa" at #9 with $4.5 million and "Elf" at #10 with $4.3 million.

The top 12 movies raked in a record $168.6 million over the weekend, beating last year's take by 8.2 percent.