UK audiences turned out in force at the weekend to greet the latest local production, Gosford Park. The film, which won director Robert Altman the best director Golden Globe last month, opened at just 156 venues to record an impressive $1.2m (£837,589) taking fourth place in the national chart. This resulted in a screen average of $7,594 - the highest for any film on release over the weekend. With a stellar ensemble cast of mostly British actors, including Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Michael Gambon, Clive Owen, Kristin Scott Thomas, Helen Mirren and Sir Derek Jacobi, the comedy-drama played particularly well in London's west end where it claimed the top chart position with a massive $373,433 (£264,017) from 19 sites.
The highest new opener in the UK chart was 20th Century Fox's Shallow Hal. The Gwyneth Paltrow-Jack Black comedy, which is directed by the Farrelly brothers, landed in third place with $1.8m (£1.3m) from 284 sites - an average of $6,361. Also opening just inside the top five was Warner Bros. Training Day which grossed $1.05m (£739,718) from its 264 sites for an average of $3,963.
Despite the competition from three high profile openers, some unfavourable reviews and a 41% drop-off from its previous weekend, Vanilla Sky held on to the top spot in its second week with $2.5m (£1.7m) from 427 sites. The 10-day total stands at $8.6m.
Also holding position was Entertainment's The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring in second place. Now in its seventh week, the fantasy grossed $2.3m (£1.6m) over the weekend, bringing its total to $75.7m.