Romance ruled the box office at the weekend as Sony's wellreceived Something's Gotta Give opened number one on an estimated $17m.

To add to the studio's pre-Christmas cheer, it set a new industryrecord of opening nine number one films in a year, beating Warner Bros' oldmark of eight.

Two other new releases madetheir mark on the top four, as 20th Century Fox's comedy Stuck On You opened third on $10m and Warner Bros' urban title LoveDon't Cost A Thing placed fourth on $6.5m.

Warner Bros' action epic TheLast Samurai slipped from top spot tosecond, adding $14.1m for a $46.8m running total in its second week.

Nancy Meyer's Something's Gotta Give teams up Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholsonin a love triangle with Keanu Reeves. It averaged $6,350 from 2,677 sites.

Stuck On You serves up a suitably cringe-worthy premise for the latest FarrellyBrothers offering, literally pairing up Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear asconjoined twins who move to Los Angeles so one of them can pursue his dream ofbecoming an actor.

It received fairly good reviews and averaged $3,330 from 3,003sites.

In Love Don't Cost A Thing, an African American remake of the 1987 romantic comedy Can'tBuy Me Love, Nick Cannonstars as a high school kid who pays a popular cheerleader (Christina Milian) topose as his girlfriend.

Directed by Troy Beyer, the film suffered poor reviews and averaged$3,543 from 1,844 venues.

Further down the table BuenaVista's The Haunted Mansion passed thehalf-century mark as it added $6.3m for $53.9m, slipping two to fifth in itsthird week.

New Line's Elf is fast approaching the $150m mark after adding $6.2mfor $147.7m in its sixth week, dropping three places to seventh.

Universal's The Cat In The Hat is closing in on $100m thanks to a $4.2mhaul in its fourth week that raised its running total to $90.8m. It fell fourto ninth.

Overall box office was a mediocreaffair with the top 12 titles earning an estimated $83m.

Next weekend should bounce backemphatically when New Line opens The Return Of The King, the final episode in Peter Jackson's acclaimed J RR Tolkien remake, on Dec 17.

The Two Towers, the second part of the trilogy that opened in theatres lastChristmas, re-opened on limited release and grossed $700,000, pushing thefilm's total to $340m.

Sony's Big Fish, Tim Burton's father-son reunion tale starring Ewan McGregor,Albert Finney and Jessica Lange, opened strongly to good reviews on $215,000from six theatres, averaging $35,833.

Lions Gate's Girl With A Pearl Earring, an imagined tale of the relationshipbetween the Dutch master Vermeer and a serving girl that stars ScarlettJohansson and Colin Firth, opened on fairly good reviews on $90,000 from sevenfor a $12,857 per-theatre average.

Both films will expand in theChristmas week.

Next week's releases also include Sony's drama Mona Lisa Smile, starring Julia Roberts, MaggieGyllenhaal, Julia Stiles and Kirsten Dunst.

Estimated Top Ten US Dec 12-14 2003

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

1 (-) Something's Gotta Give (Columbia) CTFDI/Warner Bros Int'l $17m -

2 (1) The Last Samurai (Warner Bros) Warner Bros Int'l $14.1m $46.8m

3 (-) Stuck On You (Fox) Fox Int'l $10m -

4 (-) Love Don't Cost A Thing (Warner Bros) Warner Bros Int'l $6.5m -

5(3) The Haunted Mansion (BuenaVista) BVI $6.3m $53.9m

6 (6) Bad Santa (Dimension) Miramax International $6.2m $35.9m

7 (4) Elf (NewLine) NLI $6.2m $147.7m

8(2) Honey (Universal) UIP $5.1m$20m

9 (5) The Cat In The Hat (Universal) DreamWorks/UIP $4.2m $90.8m

10 (7) Gothika (Warner Bros) Columbia TriStar $2.7m$53.9m