The Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston farce Along Came Polly debuted at No. 1 this weekend with $27.6 million*, officially ending The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King's four week reign at the top of the box office. Polly is the second biggest January debut since Star Wars: Special Edition, which opened in 1997 with $35.9 million.
After weeks of heavy dramas angling for awards considerations, sometimes all an audience wants is a laugh, Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations told The Associated Press.
Polly also becomes the biggest opening film of all time for the Martin Luther King weekend and, if the estimates hold through Monday, the figures could put this weekend as the fourth best MLK holiday weekend overall. The same weekend in 2001, led by the dance drama Save the Last Dance at $23.4 million, still holds the record as the best MLK weekend at $124.9 million for the top 12 films over four days.
The real race this weekend seemed to be between second, third and fourth places, with a scant $200,000 difference between the three. As of Sunday's estimates, second place belonged to Big Fish at $10.4 million, which nearly came in first last weekend when it first expanded wide. The high-octance Torque revved up in its opening weekend, coming in third with $10.27 million, while The Return of the King slid down to fourth place with $10.2 million. These spots could be adjusted in the final tally, which will be released Tuesday.
The family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen rounded out the Top Five with $8.7 million, while another newcomer, the animated Disney's Teacher's Pet, failed to make the Top 10 in its opening weekend, taking in a piddly $2.4 million.
THE TOP TEN
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Along Came Polly debuted at the top of the list with an ESTIMATED $27.6 million in 2,984 theaters. Its $9,249 per theater average was the highest of any film opening wide this weekend.
The story revolves around an insurance risk assessor on the rebound who falls for an avowed risk taker.
Sony's PG-13 rated drama Big Fish held onto second place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $10.4 million (-25%) in 2,514 theaters (+108 theaters; $4,137 per theater). Its cume is approximately $37.9 million.
Warner Bros. PG-13 rated actioner Torque premiered in the third spot with an ESTIMATED $10.27 million in 2,463 theaters and averaging $4,170 per theater.
On the mean streets of Los Angeles, a biker gang member must outrace his enemies if he wants to clear his name and live to ride another day.
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King fell down a few spots to take fourth in its fifth week of release with an ESTIMATED $10.2 million (-28%) at 3,003 theaters (-529 theaters; $3,397 per theater). Its cume is approximately $326.7 million.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG rated family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen dropped two notches to fifth place in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $8.7 million (-26%) in 3,025 theaters (-213 theaters; $2,893 per theater). Its cume is approximately $111.9 million.
Miramax Films' R rated Civil War drama Cold Mountain slid two places to sixth place in its fourth week of release with an ESTIMATED $7 million (-11%) at 2,802 theaters (+500 theaters, $2,499 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $65 million.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give followed the trend and dropped two spots to seventh in its sixth week of release with an ESTIMATED $6 million (-22%) at 2,502 theaters (-374 theaters; $2,398 per theater). Its cume is approximately $100.9 million.
Miramax's R rated comedy My Baby's Daddy dropped to eighth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-52%) in 1,446 theaters (-1 theater; $2,527 per theater). The bachelor buddy comedy's cume is $12.3 million.
Warner Bros.' R rated period actioner The Last Samurai stayed in ninth place in its seventh week of release with an ESTIMATED $3.12 million (-31%) in 1,403 theaters (-498 theaters; $2,224 per theater). Its cume is approximately $101.9 million.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated British comedy Calendar Girls moved up the list from last week's 12th place to No. 10 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $3.1 million (-17%) in 967 theaters (+10 theaters; $3,206 per theater). Its cume is approximately $17.2 million.
Buena Vista's PG rated animated Disney's Teacher's Pet failed to make the Top 10 in its opening weekend, taking in an ESTIMATED $2.4 million in 2,027 theaters with an average of $1,184 per theater.
The film is a quirky animated kid's movie about a dog who dreams of becoming a human boy, and his master, who just wants a dog.
This week, the Top 12 films grossed an estimated $95.5 million, up 5 percent from last week's $91 million, but down 3.99 percent from last year's $99.5 million.
Last year, Warner Bros. PG rated comedy Kangaroo Jack opened at No. 1 with $16.5 million in 2,818 theaters with a $7,770 per theater average; Sony's PG-13 rated National Security opened at No. 2 with $14.3 million in 2,729 theaters with a $6,161 per theater; and 20th Century Fox's Just Married fell to third place in its second week with $14.6 million in 2,769 theaters (+3 theaters; $4,974 per theater).