The spectre of Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets previews loomed large over the UK box office holdovers this weekend, however several of the previous week's openers, led by 28 Days Later, held up valiantly. Meanwhile Buena Vista International's Rabbit-Proof Fence led this week's openers in a strong week for the art house and limited release circuit.
Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, released through 20th Century Fox, impressed again this week, retaining the top spot with $1.7m (£1.1m). The film dropped off just 19% from its launch week, ably taking advantage of the gap left in the adult market created by a lack of openers this week and Harry Potter preview screen saturation.
Adding two sites, the apocalyptic thriller played at 320 locations this week for a strong average of $5,332 per venue. 28 Days Later has grossed $5.3m (£3.3m) after 10 days on release and should hold up well again next week when the only wide openers are Warner Bros' Harry Potter (which had little effect on the film this week) and Fox's comedy Super Troopers.
Also holding up well were Columbia TriStar's Mr Deeds and UIP's Changing Lanes, both in their second weeks. Mr Deeds added another 14 sites and leapt from fourth to second in the chart, with $1.2m (£746,070). The Adam Sandler comedy dropped off a paltry 15% this weekend and scored a solid site average of $3,864.
Changing Lanes lost 17 locations but managed a drop of just 27% from its opening weekend to take fourth place with $894,393 (£562,573) from the 294 remaining venues.
Australian director Phillip Noyce's stolen generation drama Rabbit-Proof Fence impressed as the highest opener of the week. Landing seventh position the film scored a good $350,390 (£220,395) from only 99 sites for an average of $3,539.
The film, which stars newcomers Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury and Laura Monaghan alongside screen veterans David Gulpilil and Kenneth Branagh (also appearing in the Harry Potter sequel), played particularly well in London's West End. Showing at 15 venues in the heart of the capital Rabbit-Proof Fence grossed $120,285 (£75,659) - an average of $8,019 per site. It landed second position in the West End chart.
In comparison the only other opener to make the chart this week, UIP's much-delayed Orange County, claimed a weak $265,582 (£167,051) and ninth position from 162 sites, for an average of just $1,639.
As well as the success for Rabbit-Proof Fence the art house and limited release circuit saw four other titles gracing the top 15. Metrodome's Donnie Darko held 10th place for the third consecutive week with $205,366 (£129,175), dropping off just 26% from the previous week. With a strong third-week site average of $4,027 from its 51 locations the film has now recorded a cumulative gross of $1.2m in the UK, more than double its North American tally last year. UGC Films' All Or Nothing, currently showing at 48 sites, re-entered the chart at 14, grossing $57,601 (£36,231).
Momentum Pictures enjoyed a double whammy this week. The company's Ireland only release, The Magdalene Sisters, dropped just 16% from last week, climbing from 14th place to 11th with $117,690 (£74,027). The film is handled in Ireland by Eclipse.
Meanwhile Morvern Callar jumped from 15th to 12th after falling a paltry 3% from its opening week, despite not adding a single extra location. The drama, directed by Lynne Ramsay and starring Samantha Morton, claimed $84,002 (£52,837) from 17 sites over the weekend for a strong average of $4,941.
Most effected by the Harry Potter previews, which grossed more ($12.5m) than the rest of the films on release in the UK put together, were the longer running holdovers. Columbia's XXX dropped 45% to take third place with $990,452 (£622,994) after losing 56 locations. Entertainment's My Big Fat Greek Wedding held sixth place but saw its first big percentage drop of 53% after losing 66 venues. The romantic comedy has grossed a mighty $20.2m (£12.7m) in the UK since release eight weeks ago.
Unsurprisingly BVI's Lilo & Stitch took a big hit from the direct competition from Harry Potter dropping 65% and losing 35 sites to take $594,967 (£374,234) in fifth place. The animated film has grossed $19.5m to date in the UK.
The two biggest hits felt in the chart were for two adult-aimed horror titles. Entertainment's They lost 74 sites this weekend and fell 84% from its opening last week to take $52,184 (£32,824). Taking 15th place the film played at 111 sites for a dire average of $470 per site. In its third week BVI's Halloween: Resurrection played at 135 sites, 152 less than last week, and dropped 85% into 13th place with $61,415 (£38,630).