Despite the hype, New Line's Snakes On A Plane had a disappointing opening weekend inNorth America, taking $13.85m on 3,555 screens in three days and $15.25mincluding 10pm shows on Thursday night.

Over the three days, without previews, the film was actuallybeaten by Sony's Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby in its third weekend which took $14.1m on3,741 sites.

Snakes On A Planestarted well with a $7.53m gross from Thursday late night previews and Fridayas enthusiasts who had generated the internet excitement over the film rushedout to see it. But ultimately the buzz failed to turn into across-the-board boxoffice for the action flick starring Samuel L Jackson on Saturday and Sunday.Its per-site average was an okay $4,290.

Directed by David Ellis, a New Line regular with creditsincluding Cellular and FinalDestination 2, Snakes On A Plane had become such an internet favourite, principallybecause of its title, that New Line shot more action scenes to soup it up. Thestudio opted not to screen it to critics, so that no preconceptions weredamaged. Still, for a film which cost under $40m, the opening is fine.

Talladega Nights strode past the $100m mark for a total to date of $114.7m. It isstar Will Ferrell's third leading man picture to break $100m after Elf in 2003 and Anchorman: The Legend OfRon Burgundy in 2004.

The weekend's other wide opener Universal comedy Accepted opened on $10.1m from 2,914 theatres, scoring ascreen average of $3,470. Produced by Tom Shadyac and Michael Bostick throughtheir Universal-based Shady Acres, the film stars Justin Long from TheBreak-Up and Herbie Fully Loaded as a high school slacker who sets up his own college.Steve Pink, who co-wrote High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank,made his directorial debut on the film.

Paramount's World Trade Center fell a relatively modest 42% in its second weekend,and held firm in third position with $10.8m to bring its ten-day total to animpressive $45m.

Even more impressive was Fox Searchlight's hit comedy LittleMiss Sunshine, a pricey Sundanceacquisition which looks to be paying off handsomely. The film expanded from 153to 691 sites and grossed $5.7m for a powerful $8,212 average. The film hasalready grossed $12.8m.

The independently financed comedy Material Girls featuring Hilary and Hayley Duff grossed a so-so$4.6m at 1,509 sites for a $3,061 average. Backed by Madonna and Guy Oseary'sMaverick Films and Michael Mendelsohn's Patriot Pictures, the poorly reviewedchick flick in which the two sisters play heiresses stripped of their fortunewas distributed domestically through a service arrangement with MGM. ArclightFilms is handling international sales.

Meanwhile Buena Vista's Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest took $5m in its seventh weekend on release to bring its total to $401m. It is only the seventh film in industry history to pass the $400m benchmark.

The strongest limited opening belonged to Yari FilmGroup's The Illusionist starring EdwardNorton and Paul Giamatti. The period thriller set in turn-of-the-century Viennahad its world premiere at Sundance this year but no distribution deal wasforthcoming, so, as in the case of Winter Passing and Find Me Guilty, YFG opted to distribute in the US itself, with Alliance Atlantis MPD handling Canada.

On 51 screens in North America, the film took $924,886which represents $18,135 per screen. Canada apart, YFG's US numbers were particularly strong - $762,000 representing a per-site average of $20,052. YFG plans to expandfrom 12 to 20 cities next weekend and then up to 500 by Labour Day weekend.

Next weekend's wide releases are Buena Vista's Americanfootball true story Invincible starringMark Wahlberg, Universal's Prohibition-era musical Idlewild directed by Bryan Barber and starring Andre Benjaminand Big Boi aka Outkast, Warner Bros' gross-out comedy Beerfest about two American brothers at Oktoberfest in Munichand New Line/Walden Media's How To Eat Fried Worms, a family comedy from the famous novel by ThomasRockwell about a young boy facing off against bullies.

Estimated Top Ten North America Aug 18-20, 2006

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimatedweekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Snakes On A Plane (New Line) NLI $15.25m -

2 (1) Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby (Sony) SPRI $14.1m $114.7m

3 (3) World Trade Center (Paramount) UIP $10.8m $45m

4 (-) Accepted (Universal) UIP $10.1m -

5 (2) Step Up (Buena Vista) Summit $9.9m $39.5m

6 (4) Barnyard: The Original Party Animals (Paramount) UIP $7.5m $46m

7 (12) Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight) Fox $5.7m $12.8m

8 (6) Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista) BVI $5m $401m

9 (-) Material Girls (MGM) Arclight $4.6m -

10 (5) Pulse (Dimension) TWC $3.5m $14.7m