14 January 2014 11:20 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

American Hustle pushed into second place by Steve McQueen's gritty slavery drama – which has beaten Slumdog Millionaire's opening weekend, while The Railway Man surprises with £1m+ haul

American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave wrestle for Oscars

• Golden Globes 2014 – roundup

The winner

With Oscar nominations announced this Thursday, the annual awards season is now in full swing, presenting the perfect opportunity for a potentially challenging adult drama – Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave – to engage cinema audiences.

And so it proved, with a very healthy £2.51m opening for the gritty true story from just 207 cinemas, delivering a site average of £12,132.

Local distributor eOne was quick to trumpet this achievement as bigger than the UK opening of Slumdog Millionaire (£1.83m from 324 cinemas), and with a higher screen average than the debut of The King's Speech (£8,919). Both those titles were massive feel-good crowdpleasers that went on to achieve enormous multiples of their opening numbers. »

- Charles Gant

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