‘Big Fish’ Wide Release Reels In Box-Office Win — Or Does It?

Tim Burton drama — at least for the moment — unseats 'Lord of the Rings' with receipts of $14.5 million.

It took a “Big Fish” to wrestle away the box-office crown from “The
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” After three weeks atop the
heap, the third installment of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth epic
dropped to second place to make room for Tim Burton’s latest — at least for now.

“Big Fish,” a collection of tall tales starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney,
squeaked by the box-office champ on grosses of $14.5 million in its
first weekend of wide release, according to studio estimates. The
movie, which has already grossed $24 million in limited release, added
more than 2,300 theaters in its fifth weekend as its receipts rose
nearly 500 percent over the previous week.

The estimates for the top two movies were so close, however, that experts
predicted Monday’s final tallies could find them switching places or
inching even closer than their photo-finish $400,000 gap.

In one of the tightest races in recent weeks, “The Return of the King”
reported estimated grosses of $14.1 million, bringing its one-month
U.S. take to $312.2 million. The movie is poised to pass the $314.8
million domestic gross of the series’ first film, “The Fellowship of
the Ring,” by next week, and it is eventually expected to eclipse the
second film’s $341.7 million in domestic sales.

The Steve Martin comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen” slipped one spot in its
third week to #3 with $12 million, which pushed its grosses to date
over the $100 million mark. The Jack Nicholson/ Diane Keaton adult
dating comedy “Something’s Gotta Give,” which brought in $8.2 million
to put its five-week total at $93 million, again followed it.

The Eddie Griffin/ Michael Imperioli comedy “My Baby’s Daddy” debuted at
#6 on an estimated take of $7.8 million and the Mandy Moore
first-daughter love story “Chasing Liberty” came in at #7 with $6
million. (Click for photos from “Chasing Liberty.” )

The serial killer drama “Monster” — in which Charlize Theron
covers up her movie-star looks with 30 extra pounds, gnarled teeth and
ragged makeup — had a strong showing in limited release. The
story of executed female serial killer Aileen Wuornos spread to 82
theaters and grossed almost three times more on average per screen ($10,551)
than the majority of the top 10 films.

Rounding out the top 10 are “Cold Mountain” at #5 with $7.9 million;
“Paycheck” at #8 with $5.2 million; “The Last Samurai” at #9 with $4.53
million and “Mona Lisa Smile” at #10 with $4.5 million.

The top 12 movies took in $92.5 million total, improving on the numbers from
the same weekend last year by five percent.

Often guilty, never convicted. Serving 15 years to life at MTV News.