Animated sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa has hit the number one spot at the US box office after its first weekend on release.

The Dreamworks film took an estimated $63.5 million (£40.2 million) from 4,056 screens to debut at the top of the charts with the best animated opening of 2008.

Voice actors Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock and Jada-Pinkett Smith return as the animals from the New York zoo, along with the show-stealing lemurs and penguins from the first film, find themselves marooned in the titular African nation.

The sequel bettered the box office performance of its predecessor and achieved the seventh best opening of all time for an animated feature.

"I think we exceeded expectations. It's a great entry for the Madagascar franchise and for the box office overall," said Anne Globe, Dreamworks Animation's head of worldwide marketing Anne Globe said.

"I think we succeeded in broadening the audience," she told Variety.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was the performance of comedy Role Models - starring Seann William Scott and Paul Model - which debuted in second with an estimated $19.3 million (£12.2 million) from 2,792 screens.

Clint Eastwood's 1920s drama Changeling remained in fourth while last week's number two Zack and Miri Make a Porno fell to fifth.

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

1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (-)
2 Role Models (-)
3 High School Musical 3: Senior Year (1)
4 Changeling (4)
5 Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2)
6 Soul Men (-)
7 Saw V (3)
8 The Haunting of Molly Hartley (5)
9 The Secret Life of Bees (7)
10 Eagle Eye (9)

10/11/2008 09:22:07