Fox's slapstick comedy Just Married opened number one over the weekendon $18m, according to studio estimates released today (Jan 12). The lowbrowpicture's debut means the studio has already recouped its low budget productioncosts - which were in the region of $18m - and cocked a snoot at the criticsthat lambasted its mindless appeal. Brittany Murphy, who most recently playedopposite Eminem in Universal's 8 Mile, and her real-life partner Ashton Kutcher play honeymoonerson a madcap honeymoon through Europe. Just Married averaged $6,512 from 2,764 theatresand clearly hit its target as studio executives reported two-thirds of theaudience was aged 21 or under. It was enough to dislodge The Lord Of TheRings: The Two Towersfrom top spot for the first time in four weeks. New Line won't be unduly bothered:the second part of Peter Jackson'sfantasy trilogy grossed $15m for a stunning $283.6m cumulative score after 26 daysand is fast catching up with The Fellowship Of The Rings' $313m total.

For the third consecutive week much of the rest of the top 10remained largely the same as the studios focused on maintaining momentum fortheir awards contenders. DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can continued to do sterling work at thebox office, adding another $14.8m for a $119.5m running score in its thirdweek. It is the 23rd picture released in 2002 to pass $100m and the first titleto do so this year. Two titles previously on limited released expanded andbroke into the top 10. Fox Searchlight's naval drama Antwone Fisher, which marks the directorial debutof Denzel Washington, climbed six places to ninth and grossed $3.8m afterexpanding from 186 to 1,006 theatres. It averaged $3,777 in its fourth weekendand now has a cumulative score of $10.5m.

In tenth place, rising nine, was Columbia's strong awardscontender Adaptation, a quirky comedy written by Charlie Kaufman that sees NicolasCage play twin screenwriters. The picture took $2.9m for $9.5m in its sixthweek on release. A strong tip for Sunday's Golden Globes, with six nominations,Adaptationunderwent a timely expansion from 109 to 560 theatres and averaged $5,178. Chicago, which is one of Miramax's strongestawards hopefuls this season, climbed three places to six on $5.6m in its thirdweek after expanding 58 sites into 362. It averaged $15,470 - the highest inthe top 10 this weekend - and has a $17.1m running total.

Overall box office was an estimated $88.6m, about the same as the correspondingperiod last year but 19% down on the previous weekend. Next weekend's releasesinclude three comedies: MGM's A Guy Thing, starring Julia Stiles and Jason Lee; Columbia's NationalSecurity starringMartin Lawrence and Steve Zahn; and Warner Bros' Kangaroo Jack, which stars Jerry O'Connell.

Estimated Top Ten US January 10-12, 2003

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekendgross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Just Married (Fox) Fox International $18m --

2 (1) The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (New Line) New Line International$14.95m $283.62m

3 (2) Catch Me If You Can (DreamWorks) UIP $14.8m $119.5m

4 (3) Two Weeks Notice (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $6.7m $78.86m

5 (5) About Schmidt (New Line) New Line International $6.25m $21.44m

6 (9) Chicago (Miramax) Miramax International $5.6m $17.08m

7 (4) Maid In Manhattan (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $5m $83.71m

8 (6) Gangs Of New York (Miramax) Initial Entertainment Group $5m $55.09m

9 (15) Antwone Fisher (Fox Searchlight) Fox International $3.8m $10.45m

10 (19) Adaptation (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $2.9m$9.45m