The entry of James Bond title Die Another Day and the continued might of Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets at the UK box office this weekend caused a massive downturn in the fortunes of most other current releases.
Die Another Day, the first Bond handled by 20th Century Fox since taking over international distribution of MGM's titles from UIP, was embraced by UK audiences - recording the highest opening ever for the secret agent with a five-day take of $14.4m (£9.1m). This gave Fox a tremendous five-day site average of $33,568 and a screen average of $17,454.
Over the weekend (Friday Nov 22-Sunday Nov 24) Bond had to settle for second place in the chart, its 827 prints at 430 sites outgunned by Harry Potter's 1,275 prints at 525 sites.
Warner Bros' enterprising sequel claimed $11.6m (£7.3m) over the three-day weekend for a site average of $22,041 and a screen average of $9,076. The children's fantasy adventure dropped off 29% from its opening weekend, a good result for a blockbuster, and has already grossed $47.5m (£30.0m).
At the same point last year The Chamber Of Secrets' predecessor, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, had grossed $46.1m (£29.1m), however that film received only two days of paid previewing compared to The Chamber Of Secrets' four.
Also the week-on-week percentage drop for the sequel, while low, is significantly larger than that for Philosopher's Stone last year, which dropped off just 13% between weeks one and two. While they are unlikely to effect its box office dominance, Potter faces further competition in the children's market next week from BVI's Tim Allen sequel The Santa Clause 2 (the original grossed $10m in the UK after opening in December 1995) and in the older children and younger teens market from Columbia TriStar's animated Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights from Dec 6, before Entertainment's The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers launches on Dec 18.
Two other titles opened into the chart this week with Icon Film Distribution's Brit-com Anita & Me taking third place with $717,742 (£453,613) from 226 sites for an average of $3,176.
In the limited release arena Optimum Releasing's French-language title He Loves Me' He Loves Me Not (A La Folie' Pas Du Tout), took 15th place with $52,150 (£32,959). Playing at just 15 sites the film, which stars The Brotherhood Of The Wolf's Samuel Le Bihan and Amelie's Audrey Tautou, scored an average $3,477 per location.
Also remaining strong in limited release were BVI's Rabbit-Proof Fence, dropping 33% this week to take seventh place with $243,446 (£153,858) from 90 sites and Momentum Pictures' Bowling For Columbine at eight with $228,843 (£144,629).
Showing at only 33 venues Michael Moore's poignant satirical documentary scored an impressive average of $6,935 per screen and dropped off a paltry 8% from its launch weekend. With a total gross of $646,201 Bowling For Columbine is already the fourth highest grossing documentary of all time in the UK, after just 10 days on release.
The other wide releases felt the brunt of Potter and Bond's screen dominance, which between them controlled over 66% of screens in the country. While fourth-placed 28 Days Later and fifth-placed Mr Deeds saw percentage falls of 52% and 57% respectively, Changing Lanes, Super Troopers and XXX all saw drops of over 70%.
Entertainment's My Big Fat Greek Wedding did well to drop 64% considering its site count dropped 55% from last week. The hit romantic comedy has grossed $21.1m (£13.4m) from the UK and Ireland to date.