Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas opened at the top of the UK chart with a healthy $4,408,344 (£3,063,799) from 430 sites, defying expectations that it would receive a cold reception outside the US where the Dr Seuss series of children's books are not as well known.

The film performed much better in the UK than Jim Carrey's other offerings this year: Me, Myself And Irene, which took $1.88m from 357 sites when it opened in the UK in September, and Man On The Moon, which opened with $403,398 from 231 sites in May.

In non-English speaking European territories, The Grinch fared less well, opening at number five in Spain with $720,083 from 243 screens and number four in the Netherlands with $142,933 (128 screens). It opened at number three in Germany last week, grossing $2,153,432 from 591 screens over the four-day weekend.

Elsewhere in the UK, Warner Bros' Red Planet, starring Val Kilmer, opened with $475,383 (£330,391) from 265 sites to take the number four spot. Columbia TriStar's Urban Legends: Final Cut also had a respectable opening, grossing $381,701 (£265,282) from 174 sites.

Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks opened at number seven with $263,404 (£183,066) from just 57 sites for a strong site average of $4,622. Crooks easily out-performed Allen's last effort, Sweet And Lowdown, which took $152,624 (£101,495) on its UK opening in June this year.

Charlie's Angels, which nabbed the top spot when it opened last weekend, continued to perform well, dropping just 29%. The Columbia TriStar title came in at number two with $3,237,433 (£2,250,016) from 441 sites.