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Cool haul for the King

December 29, 2003 12:44 IST

While The Return Of The King did fantastic business over the four-day Christmas weekend, exceeding many
expectations, there was a lot of cheer to spread around as the comedy Cheaper By The Dozen and historical drama Cold Mountain opened to excellent numbers.

A still from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The KingEven Paycheck, roasted by most major critics, had a promising opening.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King rung up an estimated $65.8 million, bringing its 12-day cumulative to $223.7 million. Worldwide, the movie grossed about $510 million in 13 days.

Steve Martin's Cheaper, grossed a strong $36.4 million, giving the comic star who is celebrating his 25th year in
Hollywood the second biggest opening in his career. The comedy, about a temporarily single father taking charge of
a dozen kids, earned $28 million in three days, while Martin's Bringing Down The House, which was co-produced
by Ashok Amritraj, had grossed $31 million. If the new Steven Martin movie maintains its momentum, it could fly
beyond the $100 million benchmark.

The John Woo directed  sci-fi adventure Paycheck, starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman, surprised many by taking in an encouraging $19.2 million. It took third position on the box-office chart over the four-day period, though it was trailing behind Cold Mountain and Something's Gotta Give for the Dec 25-28 frame. Many sci-fi films suffer a sharp decline in the second week, and if that happens with Paycheck, the $60 million movie may find it difficult to collect a bonus.

Considered by many to be the riskiest of all holiday releases, the epic saga of war and remembrance Cold Mountain too opened well in the fourth place with $19 million. It was playing in about 2,200 theatres, while films like Cheaper were shown in more than 3,200 theatres.

But a costly remake of Peter Pan could not find a place among the top five with its disappointing $15.1 million. The $100 million film that drew mixed reviews could only break even if it has a great video and DVD sale.

Many holdover movies benefited by the seasonal uptick in business with the romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give, starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, grossing $17.7 million and increasing its take by 24 per cent. Its success -- along with that of Cheaper by the Dozen -- proves that older stars can be strong box-office draws. 

Another disappointing film of the season, the feminist academic melodrama starring Julia Roberts, Mona Lisa Smile, too benefited  by the upbeat situation. It slipped by less than one percent from its weak opening last week. It looks like the film, expected to be a clean flop, now could emerge as a break-even venture, with about a $60 million gross in North America.

Tom Cruise in The Last SamuraiThe Tom Cruise adventure The Last Samurai fought a hard battle and brought home a decent $8 million. But the film
which has grossed $74 million in a month will have to fight harder to reach the $100 million mark.

The nasty, unsociable Santa had quite a few takers too, and as a result Bad Santa, one of the more surprising films of the year, reached $50 million.

The perennial favourite Elf was still making merry with about $3.7 million. It will be couple of weeks before it is demoted from the top 10 list. The movie, which cost just about $35 million, has already become one of the more profitable films of the year.

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Arthur J Pais