Fresh from its Oscar triumph, Return Of The King easily beat off the challenge to its pole position by new release Master And Commander.

LOTR led the nine-cities charts with a $54,508 screen average, compared with $39,613 for Master And Commander. The week's other Top Fifteen opener, Gothika, earned $300,105 on 13 urban screens for a $23,085 screen average.

Meanwhile, The Twilight Samurai, a Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee, rose ten places to number twelve in its second week of re-release, with a strong $40,227 screen average., the third-highest on the chart. First released at the end of 2002, the Yoji Yamada samurai drama spent the better part of a year in the theatres.