New Line's The Lord Of The Rings: The Return OfThe King became the second fastest film of all time to pass $200m over arecord breaking Christmas weekend at the box office, staying top in its secondweek on $51.2m for an estimated $223.7m running total.

Peter Jackson's trilogy finale passed $200m on its 11thday (Dec 27) and trails only Spider-Man, which accomplished the featover nine days in May 2002.

It dropped 29% and averaged $13,833 from 3,703 theatres.Studio sources reported a notable level of repeat business and matineeattendances and said the film is tracking 12% ahead of predecessor The TwoTowers at the comparable stage in December 2002.

The Return Of The King is fast approaching a $500m worldwide gross after raising its international running total to $268.4m from 38 territories. It tracks 27% ahead of The Two Towers by the comparable stage of release and has amassed $492.1m at the global box office.

Opening strongly in second place on $28.2m was 20thCentury Fox's comedy remake Cheaper By The Dozen, which grossed $36.4mfrom four days and averaged $8,558 from 3,298 theatres.

Steve Martin plays an efficiency expert who attempts to runhis litter of 12 children along corporate lines. Bonnie Hunt also stars in thecomedy, which was directed by Shawn Levy and drew poor reviews.

Miramax's American Civil War drama Cold Mountainopened third on $14.5m for a $19m four-day cumulative score and averaged $6,691from 2,167 sites.

"We're exceptionally happy," Miramax chief operating officerRick Sands told Screendaily. "We're off to a great start, exit polls are strongand we'll expand by 600 or 700 theatres on Jan 19. We're in this for the longhaul."

Cold Mountain cost Miramax $80m and stars Jude Lawstars as a wounded Confederate soldier who embarks upon a homeric journey hometo the love of his life, played by Nicole Kidman. Anthony Minghella directedthe acclaimed drama, which also stars Renee Zellweger.

Paramount's sci-fi thriller Paycheck opened in fifthon $13.9m for a $19.2m four-day cumulative score. It averaged $5,032 from 2,762venues and stars Ben Affleck as a top secret employee whose memory gets erased.

John Woo directed the film, which elicited poor reviews andalso stars Uma Thurman and Aaron Eckhart.

Universal's live-action version of Peter Pan openedin seventh place on a disappointing $11.4m for a $15.1m four-day running total.It averaged $4,052 from 2,813 sites and drew very good reviews.

Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter and Ludivine Sagnier star in JM Barrie's legendary tale of the boy who never grew up. P J Hogan directed.

Elsewhere, Columbia's romantic comedy Something's GottaGive slipped one place to fourth as it added $14.2m for $56.4m in its thirdweek.

Miramax's black comedy Bad Santa passed $50m in itsfifth week as it fell two to ninth and added $4.5m for a $50.9m total. NewLine's comedy Elf tumbled five to 10th in its eighth week,adding $4.3m for $164.9m.

Overall box office for the top 12 films was $168.6m, up 8% onlast year's record Christmas weekend.

1 (1) The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of TheKing (New Line) NLI $51.2m $223.7m
2 (-) Cheaper By The Dozen (Fox) Fox Int'l $28.2m $36.4m
3 (-) Cold Mountain (Miramax) Miramax Int'l $14.5m $19m
4 (3) Something's Gotta Give (Columbia) CTFDI/Warner Bros Int'l $14.2m$56.4m
5 (-) Paycheck (Paramount) UIP $13.9m $19.2m
6 (2) Mona Lisa Smile (Columbia/Revolution) CTFDI $11.5m $31.5m
7 (-) Peter Pan (Universal) UIP $11.4m $15.1m
8 (4) The Last Samurai (Warner Bros) Warner Bros Int'l $8.4m $74.4m
9 (7) Bad Santa (Dimension) Miramax Int'l $4.5m $50.9m
10 (5) Elf (New Line) NLI $4.3m $164.9m