The heady box officecombination of director Steven Spielberg and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and TomHanks was not enough to topple The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towersfrom the top spot this weekend (Dec 27-29).
In its second week in thelead Peter Jackson's epic fantasy sequel claimed an estimated $48.9m from 3,622sites for a powerful average of $13,501 per location. The result was a mere 21%drop off from The Two Towers' opening three-day weekend.
The massive continuedsuccess of the film means that it has already passed the $200m mark after just12 days on release, a full week faster than its predecessor, The FellowshipOf The Ring, took to achieve the same amount.
It also shows that this yearNew Line's The Lord Of The Rings franchise looks like outperformingWarner Bros' rival end-of-year fantasy franchise Harry Potter. Afterseven weeks Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets has grossed $240.3min North America (it ranked eighth this weekend with an estimated $6.5m from2,505 locations).
In 2001 Harry Potter AndThe Sorcerer's Stone finished just ahead of Fellowship at thedomestic box office, with $317.6m to $313.3m.
Unable to catch TwoTowers but debuting with an impressive estimated $30m weekend in second wasSteven Spielberg's latest, Catch Me If You Can. Playing at 3,156theaters for a weekend average of $9,506, the film launched on Christmas Dayand has a cumulative total of $48.6m.
Released by DreamWorks SKGthe comic drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr, a real-lifeteenage con-artist, and Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent determined tocatch him.
Catch Me If You Can received overwhelmingly positive praise fromcritics, recognising its sheer entertainment value and pitch-perfectperformances and should perform well in the coming weeks. It also featuresChristopher Walken and Martin Sheen.
DiCaprio also had a top fiveentry with Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York. The epic drama expandedto 2,190 venues in its second weekend on release to take $11.2m for fifthplace. The Miramax release has now grossed $30.1m.
The distributor also enjoyeda strong limited opening for its musical release, Chicago. Thefilm, directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by Oscar-winner Bill Condon (GodsAnd Monsters), received good notices from critics and grossed $2.1m overthe weekend. Screened at just 77 locations the film, which stars ReneeZellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, boasted a mighty average of$27,273 per venue.
It was not all joy howeverfor Miramax this weekend which saw a poor showing for Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio.The live-action film finished well outside the top ten with a paltry $1.1m from1,195 sites, a weak average of just $921 per location. The film drew largelynegative reviews from critics.
Third and fourth positionswere filled by two hit romantic comedies, Warner Bros' Two Weeks Noticeand Sony Pictures' Maid In Manhattan. Two Weeks Notice landedthird place with a second weekend tally of $16.1m at 2,755 theaters, up 12%from its launch weekend. The Sandra Bullock-Hugh Grant feature has a 10-daytotal of $43.6m.
Maid In Manhattan also saw a percentage rise in its third weekend onrelease. The Jennifer Lopez-Ralph Fiennes title claimed an estimated $13m from2,938 sites, up 18% week-on-week.
Paramount's The WildThornberrys Movie saw a week-on-week improvement from its launch (21%) with$7.4m in seventh position. The animated film played at 3,012 venues and has a10-day cumulative total of $18.45m. However the distributor's ill-fated StarTrek: Nemesis slipped out of the top ten taking just $4.1m in its thirdweekend on release at 2,642 sites, an average of $1,552.
The tenth title in thefranchise, and fourth to feature the Next Generation crew led by PatrickStewart and Brent Spiner, Nemesis has grossed $33.9m to date and lookslike being the weakest domestic performer of the series so far. Star Trek V:The Final Frontier, featuring the previous crew headed by William Shatnerand Leonard Nimoy, was the previous lowest earner of the franchise with $55.2min 1989. The series top entry was number four, The Voyage Home, whichgrossed $109.7m in 1986.
Overall the top 12 filmsgrossed $157m this weekend, up 18% from last weekend and 7% on the same weekendlast year.
Estimated North American Top10 (Dec 27-29)
Film (Distributor) Three-day gross Total gross
1 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (New Line) $48.9m $200.1m
2 Catch Me If You Can (DreamWorks) $30m $48.6m
3 Two Weeks Notice (Warner Bros) $16.1m $43.6m
4 Maid In Manhattan (Sony Pictures) $13m $57.4m
5 Gangs Of New York (Miramax) $11.2m $30.1m
6 Drumline (20th Century Fox) $8.35m $36.9m
7 The Wild Thornberrys Movie(Paramount) $7.4m $18.45m
8 Harry Potter...Chamber Of Secrets (Warner Bros) $6.5m $240.3m
9 The Hot Chick (Buena Vista) $4.8m $22.2m
10 Die Another Day (MGM) $4.45m $146.8m