Rush Hour 2, New Line's action sequel, has emerged as the biggest independent film of 2001 in the US, according to a list compiled by AFMA, the trade body representing the independent film industry worldwide. The film, staring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker grossed $226 million.

Films eligible for AFMA's list were released in the year between Thanksgiving 2000 and Thanksgiving 2001' meaning that New Line's The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, which has taken nearly $312 million at the U.S. box office, was not eligible because of its December 2001 release date.

In second position after Rush Hour 2 was the romantic comedy What Women Want, followed by the action-thriller Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the contemporary drama Traffic and the family picture Spy Kids.

The term independent is used loosely in the film industry, but in AFMA's case it means films from companies, apart from the major studios, that assume the majority of the financial risk for a production. However, AFMA includes companies like New Line and Miramax, which are owned by studio groups Warner Bros and Disney respectfully.

"The diversity of the movies in this year's Top 10 reflects the fact that independent films come in all sizes, shapes and genres," said Jean Prewitt, president and CEO of AFMA.

The final box office figures for the top independent films of 2002 have yet to be compiled, but leading the pack by a long stretch is New Line's Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring.

AFMA, formerly known as the American Film Marketing Association, has 150 member companies from the U.S., Europe and Australasia include Alliance-Atlantis, Artisan, Capitol Films, Crystal Sky, Fireworks Pictures, Franchise Pictures, Focus, Goldcrest Films, HBO, IAC, Intermedia, Lions Gate, Miramax, Morgan Creek, NBC, New Line, Overseas Filmgroup, Pathe, Summit, TF1 and Troma.

AFMA's 2001 top ten independent films:

Rush Hour 2 ($226m) New Line, Spy Glass
What Women Want ($183m) Windancer, Icon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128m)Ang Lee, Good Machine
Traffic ($124m) Initial Entertainment, USA Films
Spy Kids ($113m) Dimension, Miramax
The Others ($71.1m) StudioCanal, Miramax
The Score ($71.5m) Mandalay Pictures, Summit Entertainment
Bridget Jones's Diary ($71.5m) StudioCanal, Miramax
Chocolat ($71.309m) Miramax
Scary Movie (71.308) Dimension, Miramax