Columbia Pictures and Joe Roth's Revolution Studios celebrated a huge triumph at the box office over the weekend as their expensive and epic actioner Black Hawk Down went wide onto over 3,000 screens and grossed a massive estimated $29m for the three days preceding Martin Luther King Jr holiday Monday.

The two-and-a-half hour movie relentlessly recreated real-life events from 1993 when 123 US troops entered Mogadishu in Somalia but became trapped in the hostile city when one of its helicopters is downed. Directed by Ridley Scott, whose last two movies Gladiator and Hannibal both grossed over $150m, Black Hawk Down has been rousingly acclaimed by critics for its realism and brutal depiction of the action. Scott is a favourite to win a Best Director Oscar nomination, although he failed to make the final five at the Golden Globes.

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who took the project to Roth when his studio partner Walt Disney Studios passed on it, the film is yet another hit for the prolific producer whose recent credit role - Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Enemy Of The State, Remember The Titans, The Rock, Con Air and Gone In 60 Seconds - is one $100m hit after another. For Roth too, the film is a welcome blockbuster after an opening year that saw two so-so performers in The Animal and America's Sweethearts and disappointments in Tomcats and The One.

Opening strong at number two was Disney's live action family movie Snow Dogs which features Cuba Gooding Jr as a Miami dentist caught up with a pack of Alaskan dogs. Reviews were mixed to poor for the film, but that didn't stop a powerful $17.5m holiday weekend debut.

Still playing well were Globe and Oscar favourites The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and A Beautiful Mind. Final figures for the four-day weekend will be available on Tuesday.

Meanwhile next weekend sees four high profile openers - Kevin Reynolds' Disney/Spyglass version of The Count Of Monte Cristo featuring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, Steve Oedekerk's action comedy Kung Pow! Enter The Fist - which inserts Oedekerk into an old Hong Kong martial arts movie - from 20th Century Fox, Screen Gems' supernatural chiller The Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney and Warner Bros' A Walk To Remember based on the best-selling teen book and starring Mandy Moore and Shane West.

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (23) Black Hawk Down (Columbia) Revolution/Columbia TriStar $29m $30.8m
2 (-) Snow Dogs (Buena Vista) BVI $17.5m --
3 (1) The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (New Line) New Line International $13m
4 (2) A Beautiful Mind (Universal) DreamWorks/UIP $11m
5 (3) Orange County (Paramount) UIP $9m
6 (4) Ocean's Eleven (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $5.7m
7 (5) The Royal Tenenbaums (Buena Vista) BVI $4.3m
8 (8) Kate & Leopold (Miramax) Miramax International $3.4m
9 (9) Gosford Park (USA Films) Capitol Films $3.3m
10 (7) Vanilla Sky (Paramount) UIP $3.1m