The film, which follows Renee Zellweger as the hapless title character coping with pregnancy and her complicated love life, utterly trounced the competition by earning more than eight times the figure of its nearest competitor.

A remarkable debut saw the movie earn $10.56 million (£8.1 million), beating another long awaited sequel Blair Witch into second with takings of $1.25 million (£959,000).

Directed by the woman behind the original 2001 hit romantic comedy Sharon Maguire, the third instalment in the Bridget Jones franchise has been a hit with critics as well as audiences.

As well as Renee as Bridget, it stars Colin Firth and former Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey as its heroine's love interests.

Third was Ron Howard's rock documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, making $854,000 (£655,000) in U.K. cinemas.

Fourth was last week's top movie, the risque animated comedy Sausage Party, with $802,000 (£615,000), while a more child friendly animation Kubo and the Two Strings rounded out the top five by making $781,000 (£599,000).