'Pirates' takes most U.K. booty

Tops '06 boxoffice with $102.9 mil; 'Casino' strong at No. 2

The No. 1 box- office draw in the U.K. for 2006 looks set to be Buena Vista International's release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which swashbuckled its way to a whopping £52.5 million ($102.9 million).

BVI's pirate tale is likely to retain its grip on the top spot as the year comes to a close, according to figures through Dec. 21 obtained from Nielsen EDI.

There is an outside chance that Sony Pictures' "Casino Royale," currently in second with £44.6 million ($87.4 million), could squeeze past it. The latest film in the Bond franchise could surpass "Pirates" if it takes in £8 million ($15.7 million) by the turn of the year.

Sony also garnered £30.4 million ($59.6 million) and third-place honors for the much-anticipated adaptation of Dan Brown's hit novel "The Da Vinci Code."

The U.K. distribution arm of 20th Century Fox has four titles in the top 10 for the year.

"Ice Age: The Meltdown" slid its way to £29.5 million ($57.8 million), "Borat" said howdy to £23.7 million ($46.5 million) and "X-Men: The Last Stand" battled to £19.1 million ($37.4 million) for Fox, taking the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively, to date.

Fox's "The Devil Wears Prada" rounds out the top 10, sashaying its way to £13.9 million ($27.2 million), and with "Night at the Museum" released here Tuesday, Fox's four-strong showing in the top 10 looks safe.

BVI also saw the animated road movie "Cars" steer its way to seventh place and £16.4 million ($32.1 million).

Warners flew "Superman Returns" into eighth place, securing £16.1 million ($31.6 million) for the superhero yarn.

In its last year as the joint distribution arm for Universal and Paramount, United International Pictures posted one top 10 position as "Mission: Impossible III" took ninth with £15.5 million ($30.4 million).