''Matrix Revolutions'' has an unimpressive weekend. The third installment will have a hard time matching the numbers of the original

By Dave Karger
November 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

So ”The Matrix Revolutions” easily topped the box office charts this weekend. No surprise there. But could anyone have imagined how low its gross would have been compared to ”The Matrix Reloaded,” which was released just six months ago?

”Revolutions” earned $50.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend, and a total of $85.5 million since debuting on Wednesday morning. But the $50.2 million figure is 45 percent lower than the $91.8 million three-day take of ”Reloaded.” Have many ”Matrix” freaks simply lost interest?

Obviously, most studio heads dream of box office numbers like these. But there’s no denying that fan disappointment over ”Reloaded,” combined with poor reviews for ”Revolutions,” didn’t help. ”Reloaded” ended up making about half of its total domestic take in its first five days; by that standard, ”Revolutions” might very well top out at $170 million, which is about what the first film grossed in 1999.

While “The Matrix” performed well below expectations, the week’s other new mega-wide release outgrossed everyone’s predictions. “Elf,” the new holiday comedy starring Will Ferrell, capitalized on its strong reviews with a fantastic $32.1 million debut. That’s even better than last year’s Tim Allen smash “The Santa Clause 2,” which premiered in early November with $29 million. You can bet that “Elf 2” is now in the works.

Disney’s family cartoon “Brother Bear” held on very nicely in its second week, earning another $18.6 million and bringing its nine-day total to $44.1 million. “Scary Movie 3,” meanwhile, dropped 45 percent to $11.1 million. Its total now stands at $93.4 million. And the football drama “Radio” slipped only 23 percent to $7.4 million, for a total so far of $36.3 million.

Close behind was the British ensemble romance “Love Actually,” which premiered with $6.6 million despite playing on only about 575 theaters, thanks to a per-theater average of over $11,000. Actually, that’s very impressive.