January 19, 2004 01:55 AM

Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston may have taken a knock from the critics for their new comedy “Along Came Polly,” but the flick still managed to rake in $26.7 million and boot “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” from its four-week perch atop the box office.

In fact, director Peter Jackson’s odds-on Oscar favorite tumbled to fourth place, with $10.2 million, according to studio estimates.

And while PEOPLE critic Leah Rozen, like most of her colleagues, found “Polly” to be “formulaic in the extreme … cue the toilet jokes,” Nikki Rocco, president of Universal Pictures distribution (which released “Polly”), tells the Associated Press: “Sure, (Ben Stiller)’s done this before, but now (Aniston’s) with him. That might have something to do with it.”

Also notable: “Torque,” featuring rapper-actor Ice Cube in a “The Fast and the Furious”-like motorcycle action film, debuted in third place.

This weekend’s Top 10, according to estimates, were as follows:

1. “Along Came Polly,” $27.6 million
2. “Big Fish,” $10.4 million
3. “Torque,” $10.3 million
4. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” $10.2 million
5. “Cheaper by the Dozen,” $8.7 million
6. “Cold Mountain,” $7 million
7. “Something’s Gotta Give,” $6 million
8. “My Baby’s Daddy,” $3.6 million
9. “The Last Samurai,” $3.12 million
10. “Calendar Girls,” $3.10 million

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