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Thor: The Dark World scores massive £8.7m opening at UK box office

Philomena also drums up good business at British cinemas

Thor: The Dark World has topped the UK box office chart by a comfortable margin, scoring £8.65m in its debut weekend (including weekday previews).

It's the third best opening for a Marvel film in the UK behind Avengers Assemble (£15.8m) and Iron Man 3 (£13.7m).

According to Screen Daily, the sequel is already more than halfway to surpassing the original's £14m UK gross.

Internationally, the Avengers effect – the expected bump in takings for new Marvel films following the $1.5bn success of the 2012 superhero team-up – was clearly in evidence.

The film, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston, took £68.3m worldwide, despite not opening in major markets such as the US, Japan or China.

Back in the UK, the critically acclaimed Philomena charted fourth (behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Captain Phillips) with £1.5m – director Stephen Frears' best debut.

Given the lack of rush factor over films aimed at older, more discerning audiences, the Steve Coogan and Judi Dench vehicle could end up with a very strong final gross.

In the nation's arthouse cinemas, The Selfish Giant earned £32,091 in its second weekend for a total of £182,542.