Three major new openers stormed the UK box office this week, led by Warner Bros' romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice. The strong combination of the three debutantes, a host of other new titles and continued strength of holdovers, such as Catch Me If You Can, led the box office for the top 15 titles to a 10% jump on last week.
Despite this, the weekend was still 26% down on the same period last year when BVI's Monsters, Inc. launched ahead of the schools half-term with a $15m (£9.2m) weekend, including previews.
Two Weeks Notice took the top spot away from last week's leader UIP's Catch Me If You Can with an opening of $4.3m (£2.6m) from 414 sites - including previews of $296,184 (£181,561) from 312 sites. It is Warner's first chart topper since the two week, mid-November, reign of Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets last year.
The comedy stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, and marks the feature directorial debut of Marc Lawrence, who previously wrote Bullock vehicles Forces Of Nature and Miss Congeniality for her production company Fortis Films. Two Weeks Notice scored a strong weekend average of $9,672.
Catch Me If You Can played a good second weekend, dropping off just 32% from its launch to take $3.6m (£2.2m) from 460 locations. After ten days on release the Steven Spielberg film has a cumulative total of $12m (£7.4m).
Entertainment's horror sequel, Final Destination 2, saw a healthy start in third with $2.7m (£1.8m) from 330 sites - including previews of $209,931 (£128,688). The sequel outperformed the original which grossed $2.4m (£1.5m) from 204 sites in May 2000. Final Destination 2 managed a good weekend average of $7,644 per location.
Animated title, The Wild Thornberrys Movie took fourth with $2.3m (£1.4m) from 330 locations - with hefty previews of $759,163 (£465,367) from 307 venues. The UIP release launched ahead of the schools half term and will find competition in its target market next week from BVI's Treasure Planet.
Chicago rounded out the top five with $1.4m. With a current tally of $15.7m in the UK the musical should see added revenue following its 13 Academy Award nominations this week.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers took sixth with $1.3m, a mere 28% drop from its previous week, to bring its cumulative total to $88.2m - passing Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, which has recorded $87.5m to date.
The only other opener to make the top 15 was Columbia TriStar's Punch-Drunk Love. The Paul Thomas Anderson film opened in 13th place with $247,135 (£151,494). Unexpectedly underwhelming performances were also seen for UIP's Narc ($115,506 from 70 sites) and Momentum Pictures' Robert Evans documentary The Kid Stays In The Picture ($28,809 from 16).
Eros International's Khushi fared better with $84,219 (£51,626) from 22 sites - an average of $3,828 per site.