A lacklustre weekend at the UK box office saw new release Just Married take over the top spot from two week leader and fellow romantic comedy Maid In Manhattan.

The top 15 titles in the UK and Ireland tallied just $7.8m (£5m) between them, a 16% drop on last weekend, which itself was 9% down on the weekend before.

This weekend was also 45% down on the same weekend last year, however, those blaming the downturn on the conflict in Iraq must take other factors into account.

Most importantly, when comparing this year to last year, it is important to note that not only were Monsters, Inc. and Ocean's Eleven holding forth - both would finish in 2002's top six earners - but with Easter falling at the end of March the market was swollen with children's releases.

The comparative weekend in 2002 saw launches of Fox's Ice Age, UIP's Jimmy Neutron - Boy Genius and BVI's Return To Neverland as well as UIP's teenage-market release Ali G IndaHouse aiming to cash in on Easter holidays. Good weather may also have kept audiences out of the cinemas over the weekend.

However, the war may well have had some effect with those who did seek the haven of the multiplexes plumping for comedy over drama. 20th Century Fox's Just Married led the table despite mixed reviews with $1.5m (£973,469) - including $87,814 (£56,201) of previews from 262 locations. Playing at 331 sites the film, which stars Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy, scored a respectable average of $4,595.

Jennifer Lopez starrer Maid In Manhattan followed in second place dropping 37% in its third weekend for $1.3m (£809,613) at 413 sites. The film, distributed by Columbia TriStar, has taken $9.3m (£6m) and is already easily Lopez's biggest UK hit to date ahead of 1998's Out Of Sight (from UIP) on $5.1m (£3.25m). After just 17 days on release Maid In Manhattan has already earned more than the star's last four releases (Enough, Angel Eyes, The Wedding Planner, The Cell) combined.

Opening in fourth was Martin Lawrence comedy National Security. Largely dire reviews did not prevent the film claiming $666,716 (£426,698) over the three-day weekend from 261 venues - an average of $2,554. The film finished narrowly behind UIP's death-row drama The Life Of David Gale which managed $683,478 (£437,426) from 326 sites in its second weekend for a weak average of $2,097.

With horror title The Ring rounding out the top five (the UIP film has earned $13.8m in the UK after five weeks on release) Pathe's drama Evelyn, starring Pierce Brosnan, was left down in sixth. The film, about an unemployed Irish father's struggle to regain custody of his daughter, pulled in just $537,922 (£344,270) from 293 sites for a poor average of $1,836.

Playing better for Pathe was another opener Patrice Leconte's French-language title The Man On The Train (L'Homme Du Train). The film, which boasted a slew of strong positive reviews, scored $74,584 (£47,734) from 18 sites for a good average of $4,144. This included a strong play weekend in London's West End where the drama, which stars Johnny Hallyday and Jean Rochefort, claimed $37,494 (£23,996) from just eight locations - an average of $4,687.

Buena Vista's The Recruit, a thriller starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell, played well on its one screen platform release at the Odeon Leicester Square, grossing $54,575 (£34,928). The success bodes well for the nationwide release of The Recruit on Friday when UIP's disaster film The Core, Warner Bros' Jet Li actionner Cradle 2 The Grave and Icon's The Rules Of Attraction will also be joining it.