The UK box office chart saw a new champion this weekend as UIP's 8 Mile knocked The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers from its four-week reign. Launching with a superb $7.2m (£4.4m) from 423 sites the Curtis Hanson film, which marks the feature debut of US rap star Eminem, scored a location average of $16,986 and easily claimed the top spot.
The Two Towers still took another $3.9m (£2.4m) over its firth weekend, a drop of just 36% from the previous week. Its cumulative gross now stands at $78.3m. The fantasy epic is distributed by Entertainment Film Distributors.
Buena Vista International's wide release of musical hit Chicago razzle-dazzled audiences to take third place. Expanding from just one site (the Warner West End where it has played a three week exclusive run since Dec 26) to 276 the film saw a 2,843% rise to land $3.2m (£2m) over the weekend for a mighty average of $11,629 per venue.
The film's Golden Globe glory at the weekend, where it received awards for best film - comedy or musical and gongs for stars Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger, and the proceeding press coverage should ensure strong performances in coming weeks as well.
Last weekend's major opener, Entertainment's Gangs Of New York which picked up the best director Golden Globe on Sunday night for Martin Scorsese, dropped off 35% for fourth place. The drama claimed $2.75m (£1.7m) this weekend for a ten day cumulative score of $9.5m.
UIP's The Tuxedo, also in its second weekend, claimed fifth place with $1.2m (£768,428), a drop off of just 29% from its launch weekend. It has grossed $3.5m to date.
Other openers this week did not fare so well against 8 Mile's debut and Chicago's wider spread. 20th Century Fox's action title The Transporter, starring Jason Statham (Snatch), took $547,605 (£338,420) from 208 sites to land ninth place.
Meanwhile Columbia TriStar's critically mauled comedy The Master Of Disguise, starring Wayne's World's Dana Carvey, saw a weekend take of just $97,212 (£60,077) from 75 locations for a weak average of just $1,296 per site.