Ben Affleck in a tight oxblood suit completely outclassed thecompetition as Fox's Daredevil opened top of the charts on an estimated $43.5m. Based on the1960s Marvel comic book, Affleck stars as blind lawyer Matt Murdock who slipsinto the costume at night to become a feared vigilante. Jennifer Garner playsthe love interest, Elektra, while additional support comes from Colin Farrelland Michael Clarke Duncan as the villains.

The $80m-plus picture was directed by Mark Steven Johnson andaveraged a superb $12,532 from 3,471 sites. It set a new Presidents Day record,beating the previous mark of $20m set by John Q last year, and became the second highestFebruary opening behind 2000's Hannibal on $58m.

Last week's number one, Paramount's romantic comedy How To LoseA Guy In 10 Days,slipped to second on $19m for $47.7m in its second week. Meanwhile Miramax's Chicago, which bagged 13 Oscar nominations lastweek, used its newfound currency to stay in third, pulling in another $12.6mfor just over $80m in its eighth week.

The only other new opener was Buena Vista's The Jungle Book 2, which bowed in fourth place on $11.9mfor an average of $4,237 from 2,808 venues. In the story, Mowgli gets itchyfeet and abandons his new village home in search of jungle life, oblivious tothe dangers that lie in wait The picture was directed by Steve Trenbirth andfeatures the vocal talents of John Goodman and Haley Joel Osment.

Elsewhere there was mostly gentle jockeying for position, withmost pictures dropping two places to make way for the debutants. Last week'sopener, the action-comedy sequel Shanghai Knights, fell three places to fifth on $11.4mfor a $34.6m running total in its second week. Bottoming out the top 10 was NewLine's About Schmidt,which received two Oscar nominations, climbed one place to add $3.6m for a$53.1m score after 10 weeks. Overall the top 12 movies took $130.1m, up 22% onPresidents Day last year.

Next weekend's releases include the UA thriller Dark Blue, starring Kurt Russell and BrendanGleeson; Universal's death row drama The Life Of David Gale, starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet;and Warner Bros' Civil War epic Gods And Generals, starring Robert Duvall and JeffDaniels.

Estimated Top Ten US February 14-16, 2003

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekendgross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Daredevil (Fox) Fox International/Regency $43.5m -

2 (1) How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (Paramount) UIP $19m $47.71m

3 (3) Chicago (Miramax) Miramax International $12.6m $80.7m

4 (-) The Jungle Book 2 (Buena Vista) BVI $11.9m -

5 (2) Shanghai Knights (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $11.4m $34.6m

6 (4) The Recruit (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $6.8m $38.8m

7 (5) Final Destination 2 (New Line) NLI $6.23m $36.13m

8 (6) Deliver Us From Eva (Focus Features) Focus Features $4.36m $12.23m

9 (7) Kangaroo Jack (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $4.02m $57.93m

10 (11) About Schmidt (New Line) NLI $3.55m $53.09m