‘Lord Of The Rings’ Makes ‘Return’ Engagement Atop Box-Office Heap

Final film in trilogy has been #1 for three consecutive weeks.

With no new competition, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the
King” easily topped the box office for a third straight week, taking in
$30.8 million over the New Year’s weekend, according to studio
estimates. (Click for photos from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” )

The third and final installment in the fantasy series has already
banked $292 million in the U.S. since its December 17 opening, putting
it 12 percent ahead of where last year’s predecessor, “The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers,” was at the same time. The film has grossed $677
million worldwide to date, 15 percent better than the second
installment during the same period.

Holding steady in second place was the Steve Martin comedy “Cheaper by
the Dozen,” which earned an estimated $21.9 million for a two-week
total of $86 million. Climbing a notch was the Jack Nicholson/ Diane
Keaton laugher “Something’s Gotta Give,” which brought in $12.5
million, giving it $81.7 million in receipts during its first three

The Nicole Kidman/ Jude Law Civil War drama “Cold Mountain” slipped a
notch, but had a solid second-week showing in fourth place, earning
$11.7 million. Despite generally poor reviews, the Ben Affleck action
flick “Paycheck” held onto fifth place with receipts of $10 million.
The week’s surprise was the comedy “Calendar Girls,” about a group of
older British women who pose for a risqué calendar, which took
home an estimated $4.6 million in just 745 theaters for a ninth-place

Rounding out the top 10 are “Mona Lisa Smile” at #6 with $8.7 million; “Peter Pan” at #7 with $8.5 million; “The Last Samurai” at #8 with $7.5 million and “Bad Santa” at #10 with $3 million.

Tim Burton’s well-reviewed drama “Big Fish” will open wide next week
after a month in limited distribution, during which time it earned $8.4
million. Also opening is the Mandy Moore first-daughter comedy “Chasing
Liberty” and “My Baby’s Daddy,” starring Eddie Griffin, Method Man and
“Sopranos” star Michael Imperioli.

Box-office receipts were up 14 percent compared to the same weekend
last year. Overall, though, ticket sales for 2003 were just under
2002’s totals, the first time since 1991 that year-end numbers were