The past two weeks have seen two box office behemoths unleashed into the international market. Two consecutive weekends of nearly $60m in international grosses have marked a huge start for Harry Potter sequel The Chamber Of Secrets and a $25m-plus debut last weekend marked a triumphant return for James Bond in Die Another Day.

However, despite the dominance of these movies, along with a handful of consistently strong US titles currently doing the rounds - most notably The Ring, Red Dragon and indie-smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding - one small film is successfully navigating a route of counter programming to great effect across Europe.

Bowling For Columbine, Michael Moore's satirical documentary about gun culture in the US, has grossed over $5m from six European territories since launching in France and the French-speaking region of Switzerland seven weeks ago (Oct 9).

Supported by a specially-designed poster campaign, the film debuted in Germany last weekend for Prokino, taking $181,776 (Euros 181,958). Playing on 57 screens in the country it achieved tenth place in the chart and sold 31,169 tickets in its first four days.

In France, where French-language documentary To Be And To Have (Etre Et Avoir) has become the most successful documentary ever in the country, grossing a massive $7.4m from 1.4 million admissions after 13 weeks in the top 20, the documentary formula is proving popular. After seven weeks on release for Diaphana Distribution, Bowling For Columbine has sold 630,186 tickets for a gross of approximately $3.3m. The film is currently playing on 154 screens in the country and dropped off just 3% this week from last.

Paris alone accounts for over a third of the documentary's French admissions with 222,160 tickets sold in the capital as of Nov 26.

Already the fourth-highest grossing documentary ever in the UK with $790,000 (£500,000) Bowling is expected to pass Polygram's When We Were Kings ($855,000) in the next week. Momentum Pictures set a record opening weekend (Nov 15-17) taking $249,839 (£157,898) from its 28 screen release. In its second weekend the film dropped off just 8% to take $228,843 (£144,629).

In Belgium the film took $29,924 (Euros 29,954) from eight screens in its first five days for Cineart. Adding one additional print in its second week figures leapt 25% to $37,317 for a screen average of $4,146. The Belgian capital of Brussels delivered $18,105 of this with $19,212 coming from the provinces. The film's total tally is $87,313 so far.

Monopole Pathe handles the film in Switzerland where, having taken $212,820 (SFR 313,697) in five weeks from the French-speaking region of the country, Bowling For Columbine launched in the German-speaking region on Nov 14. The film claimed an immense $36,745 from just two screens in its first four-days in the region, following this up in its second four-day weekend with $56,511 (a 53% rise) from three screens for a screen average of $18,837. Bowling For Columbine has grossed $422,484 in Switzerland to date.

In Italy, where it is distributed by Mikado, the documentary has grossed $260,927 (Euros 261,188) after six weeks. Currently playing on just nine screens it launched on 13 for a $25,638 three-day weekend.

Co-produced by Michael Donovan of Salter Street Films - who also produced Moore's UK Channel 4 series The Awful Truth - Bowling For Columbine cost approximately $3.2m to make with principal funding coming from Salter Street's parent, Alliance Atlantis.

The film played earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival - the first documentary film to be accepted in competition at the festival in 46 years - and was awarded the 55th Anniversary prize.

Bowling For Columbine has grossed $10.3m in North America to date for MGM/UA making it one of the most successful documentary features of all time. The highest earner was Miramax's 1991 release Truth Or Dare (aka In Bed With Madonna) which stands at $15m.

The picture opens next in the Netherlands for A-Film Distribution on Dec 5 and is quickly followed by launches in Austria and Spain.