Jumping the gun on theupcoming schools half-term holiday, UK independent distributor MomentumPictures has bred a champion with family pick-up Racing Stripes.

The film gave Momentum itsall-time biggest opening with $2.16m (£1.145m) from 394 sites, beating March2002 Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads which took $2.12m (£1.126m) from373 sites.

Racing Stripes is the official film of Red Nose Day 2005, a majorUK charity event, in an initiative not previously undertaken by a theatricalrelease on this scale with the distributor and circuit exhibitors offering acontribution to Comic Relief on every ticket sold, with approximately £30,000of the opening weekend going to the charity.

The comedy features thevoices of Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Frankie Muniz, Michael Clarke Duncanand Snoop Dogg in a Babe-style talking animal film about a zebra thatthinks it's a racehorse.

Next weekend will see RacingStripes play 400 sites as the February half-term school holiday (Feb 14-18)kicks off. The week is a key date in the UK calendar, generally considered thebest holiday date in the year as winter conditions provide little else in termsof alternative entertainment. Bookended by two weekends, the week is commonlyamongst the top five highest grossing weeks of the year in the territory andranked second best in both 2002 and 2000 when Monsters, Inc. and ToyStory 2 led the way, respectively.

This year Racing Stripeswill see competition from Pathe Distribution's The Magic Roundabout,which will release at approximately 425 sites and has already claimed $1.04m(£550,394) in previews at the weekend. UIP launches The SpongeBobSquarePants Movie at approximately 430 sites, while targetedat older kids is Entertainment Film Distributor's Son Of The Maskon approximately 320 sites. In a smaller scale release, Warner Bros will putout approximately 160 dubbed prints of German animation Laura's Star.