New Line Rings In New Year

The ball may have dropped in Times Square but the box office take for New Line’s blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King keeps soaring to record-breaking heights. The third and final installment in director Peter Jackson’s filmed adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga held its ground at the No. 1 spot over the weekend with an estimated $42.6 million, bringing its three-week domestic cume to around $292 million.

Also performing well at the North American box office is Twentieth Century Fox’s Steve Martin comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, which has managed to rake in around $86 million in the shadow of the reigning champ. The well-reviewed, family-friendly farce claimed the No. 2 spot with an estimated $30.3 million for the weekend.

Rounding out the top five are Sony’s relationship comedy Something’s Got to Give with an estimated $16.6 million, Miramax’s Oscar contender Cold Mountain with around $15.8 million and the DreamWorks/Paramount futuristic actioner Paycheck with an estimated $13.7 million.

Based on a short story by late sci-fi scribe Philip K. Dick, who provided the source material for Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall, and directed by legendary Honk Kong action maestro John Woo, Paycheck stars Ben Affleck as an electrical engineer who has parts of his memory erased and discovers he’s left himself 19 clues to a mystery. The film features visual effects by CIS, Rising Sun Pictures and Creo Collective.

Universal’s EFX-laden, live-action adaptation of Peter Pan dropped out of the top five in its second week out, earning just under $12 million. The $100 million fantasy flick has so far earned a disappointing $33.8 million, but may have some magic left in it once Return of the King fever begins to subside. Providing the film’s visual wizardry are ILM, Photon VFX, Digital Domain and SPI.