Horror movie Prom Night has been crowned king of the US box office after earning $22.7 million in its first three days of release.

Featuring Hairspray star Brittany Snow and Jonathon Schaech, the Sony Screen Gems has a PG-13 release, relatively accessible for a horror film.

And despite a poor critical reception, the film - which tells of a group of high school pupils terrorised by a killer on the titular highlight of the social calendar - grabbed the second highest US opening for a horror film since Saw IV's debut in October last year.

Sony head of distribution Rory Bruer said audiences - the majority of which was comprised by teenage girls - were often unconcerned about the critical acclaim received by new releases.

"Audiences today, they're so savvy in regards to what they want to see or don't want to see. Particularly a younger audience, they pretty much make up their own mind," he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

Street Kings, a crime epic starring Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker, opened in second place while gambling movie 21 continued to attract audiences, taking third spot.

The highest new entry in the top ten after Prom Night was Miramax comedy drama Smart People, starring Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Though the weekend figures reflected the continuation of comparatively slow business at the US box office, audience interest is expected to heighten once Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are released in May.

The top ten films at the US box office are:

1 Prom Night - $22.7 million (£11.5 million)
2 Street Kings - $12 million (£6 million)
3 21 - $11 million (£5.6 million)
4 Nim's Island - $9 million (£4.6 million)
5 Leatherheads - $6.2 million (£3.1 million)
6 Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! - $6 million (£3 million)
7 Smart People - $4.2 million (£2.1 million)
8 The Ruins - $3.3 million (£1.7 million)
9 Superhero Movie - $3.1 million (£1.6 million)
10 Drillbit Taylor - $2.1 million (£1.1 million)

14/04/2008 10:58:39