Arthur Christmas holds off newcomers Happy Feet 2, Hugo and The Thing to top UK box office on $3m (£1.9m).

Arthur Christmas has claimed top spot at the UK box office after losing out to Twilight and Immortals in the previous three weeks.

The Aardman animation scored another $3m (£1.9m) from a week high 502 screens at an average of $5,919 (£3,778) to take its tally to £11.5m ($18m) from four weeks.

The slow burn strategy is paying off for Sony as the film achieved the unique accolade of going top for the first time after four weeks and posted an impressive week-on-week drop of only 20%, the smallest decline among existing top 20 films.

Perhaps most impressively Arthur Christmas saw off new animated rival Happy Feet 2 from Warner Bros, which made only managed $2.6m (£1.7m) from 491 screens at an average of $5,380 (£3,434), a significant drop on the 2006 original which took $5.8m (£3.7m) from 445 sites on its way to $28.7m (£18.3m).

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 dropped to third position in its third week after grossing $2.6m (£1.7m) from 523 locations at an average of $5,007 (£3,196). At -62%, the film posted the biggest drop of all films in the top 40 but still outscored the previous editions in the Twilight franchise which took $2.2 (£1.4m), $2.5m (£1.6m) and $2.2m (£1.4m) at the equivalent stage of their runs. The fourth instalment in the gold-mine franchise has now taken $42.8m (£27.3m).

Entertainment’s anticipated Hugo scored $1.9m (£1.2m) from 442 screens at an average of $4,346 (£2,774) in fourth position. After the buzz surrounding director Martin Scorsese’s first venture into 3D, the haul is somewhat disappointing and conveys the concern that many had that the film falls awkwardly between an adult and child demographic. The opening is Martin Scorsese’s fourth-biggest opening since 1987.

Universal opener The Thing took $760,686 (£485,534) in fifth and My Week with Marilyn dropped three places to sixth while Fox’s The Big Year flopped in 12th, taking only $192,063 (£122,591) for a screen average of $1,098 (£701).

On their holdover weekends, Lionsgate’s 50/50 fell to eighth, Warner Bros’ Dream House to tenth and Sony’s Moneyball to 13th.

The week’s best screen average went to Fox Searchlight’s release of Kenneth Lonergan’s long-in-the-works Margaret, which took an excellent $7,199 (£4,595) from only one screen.

This week sees saturation releases for Paramount’s Puss In Boots and Warner Bros’ New Year’s Eve and a wide release for the latter’s A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. Fox’s Another Earth gets a limited release.