Buena Vista International enjoyed its second highest opening of the year, after Bruce Almighty, in the UK and Ireland this weekend as Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl sailed into the lead position.
The Jerry Bruckheimer production defied sweltering weather (see separate ScreenDaily.com story) to take a bounty of $6.1m (£3.8m) from 452 sites - including $891,053 (£553,344) from 379 venues on Thursday (Aug 7).
In Ireland Pirates Of The Caribbean claimed the lead with $354,583 (Euros 313,097) from 52 screens, including $29,839 (Euros 26,348) on Thursday.
The film gave director Gore Verbinski his second UK hit of the year after UIP's horror The Ring opened to $3.5m (£2.2m) in February. The Ring went on to gross $15.5m (£9.7m) in the territory.
Replaced at the top of the chart by Pirates, Columbia TriStar's Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines played a solid second weekend, despite dropping 55% from its opening gross. The extremes of temperature help explain the drop and T3 claimed $3.6m (£2.25m) from 477 sites, bringing its 10-days cumulative score to $18.4m (£11.4m).
Legally Blonde 2 suffered a similar drop off (54%) to land in third with a weekend take of $927,589 (£576,033) from 359 sites and a 10-day total of $5.1m (£3.1m) for 20th Century Fox.
Children's films were the worst hit by the weather with cooler evening performances more popular that daytime showings. While UIP's Sinbad: Legend OF The Seven Seas dropped another 67%, Columbia's Daddy Day Care fell 76% and although BVI's Piglet's Big Movie dropped less (44%) it could only rustle up a $906 site average.
However BVI's Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over proved it still had pulling power taking fourth place with $888,419 (£551,708) from 384 - also a 44% drop from the previous weekend. Robert Rodriguez's adventure has taken $3.9m (£2.4m) after 10 days.
Following in fifth UIP's animated opener Rugrats Go Wild struggled against the competition and mustered just $579,718 (£360,005) from 368 sites - a weak average of $1,575.
Similarly poor was Warner Bros' teen-girl comedy What A Girl Wants, which claimed $354,617 (£220,217) from 250 sites for an average of just $1,418 per venue.
There was another strong opener this week however. Yash Raj Films launched Indian title Koi' Mil Gaya at 36 sites over the weekend to take $285,185 (£177,100) - an average of $7,922 per location, the second best of the weekend after Pirates Of The Caribbean. The weekend figures included previews of $32,709 (£20,312) from 28 sites. The film took ninth place in the chart.
Next weekend sees the release of UIP's American Pie: The Wedding, making its European bow in the UK. Signs already look strong for the comedy sequel having taken $690,821 (£429,000) in previews on Sunday (Aug 10) despite being the UK's hottest ever day. American Pie 2 grossed $8.9m (£5.5m) from 420 sites - including $1.2m (£765,550) of previews - in October 2001. American Pie: The Wedding has another day of previews on Thursday (Aug 7) prior to release.