LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Split, a thriller about a man who imprisons three teenage girls in an underground bunker, debuted as the top ticket seller at North American movie houses, preliminary Hollywood figures showed on Sunday (Jan 22).
The protagonist in the film is afflicted with a personality disorder, with one particularly violent alter ego known as "The Beast."
The movie - directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the Indian American director also responsible for the Sixth Sense and other films in the horror genre - grossed an estimated US$40.2 million (S$57.3 million), box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said.
A Vin Diesel action flick, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, opened in second place with about US$20 million in anticipated box office receipts.
The car-chase, sex-laden vehicle is the third movie in the Xander Cage franchise and the second to star muscleman Diesel.
Hidden Figures, a story about three black women mathematicians who helped Nasa put the first men in space, ended its two-week run as the number one film and was in third place this weekend, selling US$16.25 million in tickets.
The Fox film, a biographical comedy-drama based on a book of the same name, stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, whose characters must deal with workplace segregation in the 1950s and 1960s.
Universal's animated musical Sing was in fourth place with a US$9.0 million take over the weekend.
In fifth place was La La Land, a nostalgic tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals. It earned an estimated US$8.4 million this weekend after garnering a boatload of accolades, including eight Golden Globes earlier this month.
Rounding out the Top 10 are: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (US$7.0 million), Monster Trucks (US$7.0 million), Patriots Day (US$6.0 million), The Founder (US$3.8 million) Sleepless (US$3.7 million).