It's official: When it comes to box office draws, the Cat in the Hat is no Grinch. Still, Mike Myers' film version of ''The Cat in the Hat'' easily topped the movie chart this weekend with $40.1 million, according to studio estimates.
That figure is well below the $55.1 million Jim Carrey's ''How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' earned in its first weekend three years ago. You can blame ''Cat'''s mostly poor reviews and the unexpectedly strong competition of ''Elf'' for that. In fact, it's shaping up to be quite a race between the two films for the biggest holiday hit of the year.
Second place went to Halle Berry's new thriller, ''Gothika,'' which premiered with $19.6 million, just ahead of ''Elf,'' which slipped only 27 percent in its third weekend to $19.1 million. After 17 days, Will Ferrell's family comedy has grossed a fantastic $95.1 million.
After debuting last weekend with $25.1 million, Russell Crowe's seafaring adventure ''Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'' dropped 40 percent to $15.2 million. Its 10-day total stands at $47.3 million -- not horrible, but nothing to brag about either. And adding 500 theaters helped the British ensemble romance ''Love Actually'' enter the top five for the first time, earning $9.1 million and pushing both ''The Matrix Revolutions'' ($6.7 million) and ''Brother Bear'' ($5.5 million) out of the upper reaches of the box office chart.