Audiences are clearly in the mood for more serious movies at the moment. After lighter releases in December (from Frozen to The Hobbit), the box office shifted strongly to much more challenging fare this week as 12 Years a Slave landed atop the UK chart with £2.5m from just 207 screens. The Oscar favourite looks set to stay in cinemas now until the big night on March 2nd. Read our review of Steve McQueen's slavery drama here.

Chiwetel Ejiofor Michael FassbenderChiwetel Ejiofor [L] and Michael Fassbender [R] have both scored Oscar nominations for '12 Years a Slave'

Meanwhile, American Hustle remains in second place. And the audience's good will even propelled The Railway Man into 6th place. It's a prestige film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, but it hasn't had any awards attention at all. Then this weekend sees the arrival of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, essentially unopposed for box office cash.

Meanwhile in America, the high achiever is Mark Wahlberg's true Navy Seal thriller Lone Survivor, another serious movie that hasn't exactly caught the attention of Oscar voters (although it landed nominations for sound editing and mixing). The frothier newcomer The Legend of Hercules had to settle for 3rd place, while Oscar contenders The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle and August: Osage County held very strong at 4th, 5th and 7th, respectively.

Watch the trailer for 12 Years a Slave:


In America, audiences get another big new blockbuster this weekend in the rebooted Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightley. British moviegoers only have to wait a week for that one.