Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has debuted at number one in the US box office taking an estimated $57.4 million (£28.9 million) in its first weekend.

The latest instalment in the superhero franchise sees the original cast return to do battle with the mysterious Silver Surfer - an alien capable of destroying the earth.

US moviegoers obviously felt this was an improvement on the last offering, as Silver Surfer's takings just slightly pipped the last Fantastic Four movie by just over $1 million (£500,000).

Ocean's 13 retained second place in the chart after George Clooney and Brad Pitt's heist thriller raced to number one in its first week.

The slick casino drama took $19.1 million (£9.6 million) in its second week at the box office, holding off competition from the ever-present Knocked Up - a comedy about a woman who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand.

Smaller movies well received by critics are often staying high on the box office for longer; something that the president of box-office tracker Media by Numbers - which compiled the latest figures - thinks is a pattern.

Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press news agency: "A lot of films are doing what these big summer movies do, open big and drop off fast."

Two huge summer blockbusters, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 and Shrek the Third, have both slipped to fourth and sixth place respectively since crashing high into the box office.

But Spider-Man 3, one of the other big releases of 2007, has hung on well and remains in the top ten.

18/06/2007 15:18:36