''Elf'' scuttles ''Master and Commander'' at box office. The Will Ferrell comedy holds strong, making it rough sailing for the Russell Crowe naval epic

By Gary Susman
November 13, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

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.