The biggest specialised opener in North America last weekend was Focus Features' 21 Grams taking $274,454 from just eight screens in New York and Los Angeles, marking a site average of $34,307.

The film, which played in the Venice, Montreal, Toronto and New York film festivals, is a heavyweight Oscar contender and its opening signals that audiences are responding to the ad campaign which asks how much vengeance weighs. The film saw a limited expansion this week and sees further expansion on Dec 26.

A successful run for 21 Grams could finish a relatively strong year for Focus which was created as Universal Pictures' specialised arm last year out of the merger of Good Machine and USA Films. The division scored three $10m-plus grosser out of eight releases and one bona fide breakout hit in Lost In Translation ($28.1m).

As for 2004, Focus already has three key releases lined up in the shape of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Mira Nair's Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon and Tod Williams' The Door In The Floor, an adaptation of John Irving's A Widow For One Year starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger.