Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima beat strongcompetition to become the number one film at the local box office over theweekend, earning $4.28m (Y500m) on 400 screens for a screen average of $10,700.

Distributor Warner BrothersJapan estimates a final gross of $42.8m (Y5bn), far surpassing companion film Flags Of Our Fathers. Flags stands at approximately $12.5m inthe seventh week of release and was denied a number one spot on its openingweekend by local baseball comedy KisarazuCats Eye: Sayonara Game.

Letters,which features an all-Japanese cast of well-known actors including star KenWatanabe, opened against last week's top two grossing films, Love And Honor and Casino Royale, as well as newcomer Nana 2.

Kentaro Otani's high-profilesequel to his own 2005 box office hit fell well below expectations, coming infourth place with earnings of $1.46m (Y170m), only 31% of the original'sopening. The first Nana went on toearn $34.46m (Y4.03bn).

In the US, Letterswas recently awarded best picture of 2006 by the Los Angeles Film CriticsAssociation and National Board of Review as well as a place in the AFI's topten. It's also a strong contender for a Best Picture Oscar nomination at theupcoming Academy Awards.