Richard Curtis' directorial debut Love Actually took the UK by storm this weekend, opening at number one and grossing a massive $11.34m (£6.7m) from 477 locations.

Screening on approximately 775 prints, the weekend takings - which included previews of $1.7m (£1m) - scored the biggest ever opening for UK distributor UIP.

Love Actually dethroned Warner Bros The Matrix Revolutions, which saw a second consecutive 55% drop off in its third weekend.

It was the fifth largest opening of 2003, after the two Matrix films, Bruce Almighty and X2, and the 16th of all time. Love Actually also qualifies as Curtis' and Grant's biggest openings in the UK. However, it is difficult to compare with films which opened on a platform release and widened later, such as Finding Nemo and Notting Hill.

The film, billed as the ultimate romantic comedy, features a host of British stars including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy.

Also doing well in the UK is Buena Vista International's Brit-hit Calendar Girls. The comedy drama starring Julie Walters and Helen Mirren passed the £20m mark, equivalent to $34m, at the weekend.