Russell Crowe faced a more tenacious foe this weekend than Napoleon's navy, namely, one of Santa's not-so-little helpers. ''Elf'' took the box office crown in its the second week, earning Will Ferrell's overgrown North Pole denizen another $27.2 million, according to early estimates, down a scant 12 percent from last weekend. Crowe's $135 million maritime saga ''Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'' had to settle for a second-place opening, sailing through the weekend with a $25.7 million debut.
Last week's top earner, ''The Matrix Revolutions,'' dropped to third place. Neo and company earned $16.3 million, down 66 percent from last weekend's debut. Disney's ''Brother Bear'' clawed its way to a $12 million weekend (down just 35 percent in its third weekend of wide release) for a fourth-place finish. Along with ''Elf,'' ''Bear'' grabbed much of the family-film audience, leaving live-action/animated hybrid ''Looney Tunes: Back in Action'' to open in fifth place, with a take of just $9.5 million. Meanwhile, the still-ubiquitous Tupac Shakur managed to score the weekend's other top-10 opening, with his narrated-from-beyond-the-grave documentary ''Tupac: Resurrection'' debuting in 9th place and earning $4.7 million on just 800 screens.