Teaming with Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson proved as beneficial in the UK as it did in the US for Adam Sandler as Anger Management scored the comedian's biggest UK release.

Columbia TriStar's film took $2.9m (£1.8m) from 431 sites - a strong average of $6,827 - giving Sandler his biggest ever UK opening ahead of the $2.3m (£1.4m) taken from 379 sites by Columbia's Big Daddy in October 1999 and the $1.7m (£1m) earned by Entertainment Film Distributors' The Wedding Singer on release in June 1998.

However, the comedy, which is Nicholson's biggest opener since Tim Burton's Mars Attacks took $3.5m (£2.1m) for Warner Bros in February 1997, was unable to unseat The Matrix Reloaded in the UK/Ireland chart and had to settle for second position.

In Ireland Anger Management did succeed in dethroning the Matrix sequel where it grossed $417,988 (Euros 357,380) from 52 screens over the weekend, compared to The Matrix Reloaded's $236,561 (Euros 202,260) from 54 screens.

Across the UK as a whole, The Matrix Reloaded dropped off 34% in its third weekend and has now taken a massive $44.4m (£26.7m) in just 19 days on release. This weekend saw it take $4.1m (£2.5m) from its 473 locations.

Despite the comedy competition, last week's big opener, BVI's Bringing Down The House, dropped off only 13% in its second weekend to take third place with $1.3m (£757,511). The film, which stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, has earned $4m (£2.4m) through its first 10 days.

Redbus Film Distribution's thriller The Hunted opened in fourth with $655,777 (£394,122) from 280 sites - including $70,494 (£42,367) of previews.

The top five was rounded out by 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United which added $553,646 (£332,741) - 27% down from the previous weekend - to give it a $33.5m (£20.1m) cumulative score after six weeks.

Metro Tartan had cause to celebrate as not only did black comedy Secretary gain three sites, 9% and one position (to put it ninth), but Japanese horror Dark Water grabbed 15th place with a strong $58,200 (£34,978) launch from just 15 sites. Secretary has grossed $1.2m (£731,693) after three weekends and is currently playing at 59 sites.