Burn After Reading, the new comedy-drama from the Coen Brothers, has debuted at the top of the US box office charts.

The espionage film, starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and John Malkovich, earned $19.4 million (£10.7 million) to claim the number one spot in a successful week at the box office.

Having claimed four Academy awards for their last film No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading's takings - the Coens' best-ever box office haul - revealed the importance of Oscar wins on commercial success.

While last weekend - which saw Nicolas Cage remake Bangkok Dangerous take pole position - was the least successful in five years, total takings for the weekend beginning September 12th are expected to exceed $100 million (£55,.4 million).

Culture clash drama The Family That Preys finished its first weekend on release in second position, beating Righteous Kill - which unites Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for the first time in 13 years - into third.

The Women claimed fourth after its first three days in US cinemas while The House Bunny continues to perform well, retaining a top five spot after a month on release.

Bangkok Dangerous had a poor second week, falling from first to eighth, with The Dark Knight dropping from fourth to seventh.

The top ten films at the US box office are: (last week's position)

1 Burn After Reading (-)
2 The Family That Preys (-)
3 Righteous Kill (-)
4 The Women (-)
5 The House Bunny (3)
6 Tropic Thunder (2)
7 The Dark Knight (4)
8 Bangkok Dangerous (1)
9 Traitor (5)
10 Death Race (7)

15/09/2008 11:59:18