While the box office was dominated by UIP's romantic comedy Love Actually last weekend - which claimed $11.3m (£6.6m), including previews of $1.7m (£1m), from 775 prints at 477 sites - two others prepared for an onslaught to claim the lead this weekend.

20th Century Fox's Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World launched at London's Odeon Leicester Square for a week's platform release ahead of its nationwide launch. The sea-faring adventure, which stars Russell Crowe and is directed by Peter Weir, landed 12th position with its $104,014 (£61,056) weekend take and looks sure to wield a strong opening this weekend (Nov 28-30).

However, also set to join the fray is Entertainment's family comedy Elf. Although the film has had a two week platform release at the Odeon West End it has more significantly had two weekends of nationwide previews. Going into its first official wide release weekend the Will Ferrell title has already netted $2.9m (£1.8m) and looks set to ably support The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in giving Entertainment a massive final month for 2003.