Mel Gibson enjoyed his biggest opening to date in the UK at the weekend when M Night Shyamalan's Signs claimed a massive $5.9m (£3.8m) from 443 sites - including $481,566 of previews at 375 locations.

Giving distributor Buena Vista International (BVI) its second biggest opening of the year, overtaking the $1.8m (£1.16m) taken by Christopher Nolan's thriller Insomnia two weeks earlier, Signs achieved a massive site average of $12,181 for the three-day weekend.

The film ranks as Gibson's highest-ever UK opening, outstripping 2001 romantic comedy What Women Want which opened to $5.3m (£3.4m) on 404 sites for Icon Film Distribution. Signs' performance was far ahead of We Were Soldiers, a Vietnam-war film starring Gibson which opened in March this year, with an opening gross of $1.2m (£757,760) from 384 sites.

What Women Want went on to gross $27m (£17.3m) in the UK, while director Shyamalan's last two titles 1999's The Sixth Sense and 2000's Unbreakable (both distributed by BVI) grossed $40.1m (£25.7m) and $17.7m (£11.4m) respectively, pointing to a strong future for Signs.

The 12A certificate film took a massive bite out of the market led last week by The Bourne Identity - which had been the first film released with the new certification. The Matt Damon action-thriller dropped off 44% from its opening three-days this week to take $1.7m (£1.1m) at 419 sites for second place, bringing its 10-day total to $6.55m.

Another BVI release, Insomnia, took third place with $744,250 (£477,064) at 263 venues, falling 43% from the previous weekend.

Of last week's holdovers The Importance Of Being Earnest held up best adding nine sites and dropping off 23% to hold fourth position for the second week with $669,300 (£429,021) at 224 locations. Meanwhile FilmFour's Once Upon A Time In The Midlands fell 39%, taking $122,749 (£78,682) from 69 sites and just missing out on a top 15 position. UIP's Frailty lost 30 placements and 77% in its second weekend bringing its 10-day total to just $246,549 (£158,038).

The only other opener to make the table this weekend was Helkon SK's romantic teen drama A Walk To Remember. The film claimed seventh position with $385,117 (£246,860) but was only able to scare up a site average of $1,464 from its 263 locations. Metrodome's much delayed O, starring Josh Hartnett, Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles and Martin Sheen was unable to find a chart placing, landing at 17th with a poor $110,357 (£70,739) from 131 sites for an average of just $842.