Battle Royale II - Requiem, the sequel to Kinji Fukasaku's 2000 hit Battle Royale, had a better Japanese opening weekend than the original - and for that matter than any other film in the history of distributor Toei.

Released on 261 screens on July 5, BR2 earned $2.8m (Y337m) from 230,00 admissions.

BR2's opening gross was 64% better than that of Battle Royale, as well as achieving a 49.8% gain over Yoshimitsu Morita's Lost Paradise (1997) and a 87.9% improvement over Yasuo Furuhata's Railroad Man (1999), two previous record holders.

The record opening gross for a local film remains 2001's Spirited Away, which grossed $15.8m from 336 screens over its first four days.

With Matrix: Reloaded still holding strong and Terminator 3 and Bayside Shakedown 2 -- the sequel to a hugely popular 1998 police thriller - arriving shortly, Toei does not plan to increase screens for BR2.

It does, however, forecast a total gross of $42m (Y5bn), which would make the film a strong contender for biggest domestic hit of the year.

Set in the near future, BR2 takes up where the earlier film left off, with a new "class" of 42 teens forced to play a murderous game by a repressive government. This time, however, their targets are, not each other, but a rebel group let by a survivor of a previous Battle Royale, who is waging guerrilla war against the entire adult world.

Fukasaku's son Kenta directed all but one scene of BR2 after Fukasaku left the film to fight terminal bone cancer. Fukasaku died on January 12 - and thirty-year-old Kenta, who also co-scripted the film, vowed to finish it in his father's spirit.

This widely reported father-son drama, as well as the R-15 rating industry censors slapped on BR2 for violent content, have helped drive the film's PR engine - and ensure long queues at the box office on its opening weekend.