Noah swept to the top in North America's theatres

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Noah, the big screen adaptation of the biblical tale with Russell Crowe in the lead, took top honours at North American box offices on its debut weekend, industry data showed on Monday.

The action drama, which reunites Crowe with Jennifer Connelly whom he starred alongside in A Beautiful Mind in 2001, earned US$43.7 million (S$55 million), box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

It easily held off last week's top earner Divergent, which took second spot with US$25.6 million.

Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit and Co's latest outing, was a distant third with US$11.3 million in takings.

The musical comedy caper was ahead of Mr Peabody And Sherman, based on characters from the 1960s television cartoon Rocky And Bullwinkle, which earned US$9.1 million.

In fifth place with US$8.8 million was the religiously themed God's Not Dead, which tells the story of a college freshman who debates his atheist philosophy professor.

It was trailed by Wes Anderson's quirky The Grand Budapest Hotel, which earned US$8.5 million in the sixth spot.

In a quiet week for new releases, the only other debut movie, Sabotage, took a disappointing seventh place with US$5.3 million in ticket sales. The action flick stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington.

It edged out car-chase action movie Need For Speed, which fell from sixth to eighth spot earning US$4.2 million, followed by ancient Greece fantasy-action movie 300: Rise Of An Empire - the gory prequel to the 2007 hit 300 - which took in US$4.2 million in sales.

Rounding out the top 10 with US$4 million was Non-Stop, Liam Neeson's latest action effort, as an air marshal faced with a ransom demand on a long-haul flight.