The newly renamed and everambitious Lionsgate kicked off the New Year with the right kind of scare as it launched itslatest horror title Hostel atnumber one on an estimated $20.1m.

The result will have delighted studio executives who were expecting a debut inthe mid teens. Hostel isLionsgate's second table-topping launch in the past three months following SawII, which opened on $31.2m overHalloween weekend and took more than $87m in theatres.

Eli Roth's critically well received tale of backpackers who unwittingly headfor an Eastern European torture club averaged $9,157 from 2,195 theatres. JayHernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson star.

Overall it was a good start to the year as the top 12 pictures combined for anestimated $106.7m, which if results hold this week will represent a 9% gain onthe same weekend last year.

Buena Vista/Walden Media's The Chronicles Of Narnia - riding high again as the internationalchampion this weekend - slipped one place to second and is approaching$250m after adding $15.4m for $247.6m in its fifth weekend.

Universal's King Kong raised itstotal by $12.5m to $192.5m and ranks third after four weekends, whileColumbia's comedy remake Fun With Dick And Jane is fourth after adding $12.2m for $81.4m afterthree.

Fox's family sequel Cheaper By The Dozen 2 ranks fifth and grossed $8.3m for $66.4m after the same amount of time.

Universal's drama Munich climbedfour places to sixth in its third weekend on $7.5m for $25.2m, andSony/Spyglass' Memoirs Of A Geishais seventh after five weekends on a disappointing $39.8m.

Focus Features' Brokeback Mountain,arguably the frontrunner in the North American awards season, ranks ninth afterclimbing five places on $5.8m for a $22.5m running total after five.

Two new releases failed to impress: Adam Sandler's romantic comedy Grandma'sBoy opened in 13th placethrough Fox on $2.9m, while Uwe Boll's fantasy video game adaptation BloodRayne also opened outside the top 10 through upstartdistributor Romar Entertainment on an unconfirmed amount.

Estimated Top Ten North America Jan 6-8 2006
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date

1 (-) Hostel (Lionsgate) Screen Gems $20.1m -

2 (1) The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (Buena Vista/Walden Media) BVI $15.4m $247.6m

3 (2) King Kong (Universal) UIP$12.5m $192.5m

4 (3) Fun With Dick And Jane(Columbia) SPRI $12.2m $81.4m

5 (4) Cheaper By The Dozen 2(Fox) Fox Int'l $8.3m $66.4m

6 (10) Munich (Universal) UIP$7.5m $25.2m

7 (7) Memoirs Of A Geisha(Columbia) Spyglass/SPRI $6m $39.8m

8 (5) Rumor Has It - (Warner Bros)WBPI $5.9m $35.4m

9 (14) Brokeback Mountain (FocusFeatures) Focus Features $5.8m $22.5m

10 (6) The Family Stone (Fox) FoxInt'l $4.6m $53.2m