After a scare from a "Big Fish" last week, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was finally usurped at the box office after a month in the top slot by the latest Bennifer offering, "Along Came Polly." No, not that Bennifer; the new power coupling consists of Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.
The romantic comedy about unlucky-in-love, germ-phobic risk assessor Stiller took in $27.6 million, according to studio estimates (click for photos from "Along Came Polly"), giving it the highest grossing Martin Luther King holiday weekend opening ever, beating the previous champ, 2001's "Save the Last Dance" ($23.4 million).
A week after its studio erroneously claimed it had beat out "The Return of the King," the Tim Burton tall-tale fantasy "Big Fish" held on to a distant second place with an estimated $10.4 million. Nipping at its heels was the new Ice Cube motorcycle drama, "Torque," which came in at third with $10.3 million (click for photos from "Torque"), followed by "King" with $10.2 million. The final installment of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy has already banked $326.8 million domestically and more than $771 million around the globe, with estimates holding for it to potentially cross the billion-dollar mark.
The Steve Martin ensemble comedy "Cheaper by the Dozen" continued its strong showing at #5 with an estimated $8.7 million, putting its one-month total at $111 million. Both the Tom Cruise drama "The Last Samurai" and the Jack Nicholson comedy "Something's Gotta Give" also passed the $100 million mark over the weekend.
The only other new movie in wide release, the PG-13 cartoon "Disney's Teacher's Pet," was a flop, limping into the #13 spot on grosses of $2.4 million. The news was better for the critically acclaimed Charlize Theron drama "Monster," which picked up nearly 80 percent more business in limited release to land at #16 with $1.5 million in estimated grosses.
Rounding out the top 10 are "Cold Mountain" at #6 with $7 million; "Something's Gotta Give" at #7 with $6 million; "My Baby's Daddy" at #8 with $3.6 million; "The Last Samurai" at #9 with $3.12 million and "Calendar Girls" at #10 with $3.1 million.
With the top 12 movies taking in $95.6 million overall, box-office receipts were four percent less than the same weekend last year.