Big Fish Rules Pond, Maybe

Sony claims that its Tim Burton-directed fantasy flick Big Fish dethroned New Line’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to hook the top spot at the North American box office over the weekend. Studio estimates have Fish just barely swimming in the lead with $14.5 million compared to King’s $14.1 million. However, rival studios, New Line in particular, are accusing Sony of inflating its numbers.

Big Fish, which enjoyed its first weekend in wide release, stars Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney in the same role at different ages as William Bloom (Billy Crudup) tries to learn the truth about his tall tale-telling father. Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter and Robert Guillaume round out the main cast. The film also features EFX by MPC and SPI under visual effects supervisor Kevin Scott Mack.

If Sony’s numbers are accurate, Return of the King slips to No. 2 in its fourth week. While the drop comes a bit sooner than expected, New Line has no cause for tears as Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy ender has already racked up more than $312 million in North America alone.

Fox’s family farce Cheaper by the Dozen, Sony’s relationship comedy Something’s Gotta Give and Miramax’s period drama Cold Mountain round out the top five with an estimated $12 million, $8.2 million and $7.9 million respectively.