Fantasy adventure The Golden Compass was off to a mighty start at the UK box office as it took nearly $2m (£1m) in its first day on release.

The film, released through Entertainment Film Distributors, generated a robust $1.86m (£920,479) from 502 cinemas in the UK and Ireland on its opening day (Weds, Dec 5).

This marks the third highest Wednesday opener in the territory for 2007 after Hot Fuzz, which opened Feb 14 with a $1.9m (£946,843) take from 347 sites and Die Hard 4.0, which opened to $1.87m (£927,552) on July 4 from 444 sites.

And it fared better than December mid-week openings for 2005 and 2006 - Compass was up 9% on The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which took $1.7m (£845,047) from 382 sites on Thursday, December 8, 2005. It was also up a massive 275% on last year's The Holiday, which opened on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 with a $0.5m (£245,479) take from 357 sites.

The Golden Compass stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards and is directed by Chris Weitz. It is New Line's first in a planned trilogy based on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books.

The film opens wide in the US tomorrow (Friday, Dec 7) via New Line.