Angelina Jolie's World War Two saga Unbroken, based on the life of 1936 Olympian and serial wartime survivor Louis Zamperini, has proved a huge hit at the box office over Christmas despite a series of mixed reviews from the critics.
The film, which has script contributions from the Coen brothers, topped the ratings in the Unted States and Canada as it took $15.592 million (£10.020 million/€12.790 million) on its Christmas Day debut - well in excess of the $9 million (£6 million/€7 million) predicted by industry experts.
Unbroken, which stars Britain's Jack O'Connell, former star of the E4 TV series Skins, in the lead part, pushed the all-star Disney blockbuster Into The Woods into second place with takings of $15.084 million (£9.694 million/€12.373).
The reaction to the film has raised predictions for the impact it will have had on the British audience following its debut screening on Friday (December 26).
Jolie's second film as a director shares its tagline - "Survival. Resilience. Redemption" - with the book of the same name from which it was adapted, written in 2010 by Laura Hillenbrand, whose earlier book Seabiscuit, about the thoroughbred US race horse which flourished in the Depression years, was also made into a film.
Zamperini, who finished eighth in the Berlin Olympics 5,000 metres aged 19 and established himself as one of the top American milers before the outbreak of the Second World War, endured a succession of potentially fatal events after joining the US Air Force.
When his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 1943 he and a fellow crew member survived 47 days adrift on a life-raft, living on birds and small sharks which they caught, before being taken prisoner by the Japanese Army upon reaching land.
Zamperini then came through more than two years of brutal treatment before returning as a hero to the United States, where he had been posted as Killed In Action since 1944.
After turning to drink while being tormented by fantasies of exacting revenge on his tormenters, Zamperini - who died on July 2 this year aged 97 - recovered himself through Christianity after being inspired by a Billy Graham rally in 1949.
He carried the Olympic Torch on its journey to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1984, and 14 years later he returned to Japan and carried the Olympic Torch ahead of the Winter Games in Nagano, passing close to the site of one of the camps where he had been kept.
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December 2014: Alan Hubbard: Hollywood cashing in on sports greatest success stories
July 2014: Olympic runner and World War Two veteran Zamperini dies aged 97
June 2010: Seabiscuit author to write book on Olympic runner
June 2010: Mike Moran: Athletes like Lou Zamperini make me proud to be an American