Nicolas Cage has broken his personal box office best after National Treasure: Book of Secrets raced to the top of the US charts.

The sequel struck box office gold with a $16.6 million (£8.7 million) opening on Friday, surpassing Cage's previous best opening of $15.4 million (£7.7 million) with Ghost Rider, according to Variety.

Cage plays treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates who attempts to uncover the mysteries behind the death of Abraham Lincoln after Gates' own great-great grandfather is linked with the murder in a missing page from the diary of Lincoln's presumed assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Last week's number one, Will Smith actioner I Am Legend, saw a 64 per cent drop compared to its opening day takings, but still earned $10.9 million (£5.4 million) from 3,620 sites on Friday, taking its eight-day total to $114.2 million (£57.5 million).

With a $76.5 million (£37.9 million) opening weekend the film last week recorded the biggest December opening of all time, surpassing the $72.6 million (£36 million) start recorded by The Return of the King - the final part of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

I Am Legend - which sees the Fresh Prince star as the last man on Earth - is the third big-screen adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name.

Fox animated/live action hybrid Alvin and the Chipmunks experienced a 37 per cent drop, taking $8.4 million (£4.2 million) from 3,499 locations and Tim Burton's ambitious Sweeney Todd garnered $3.8 million (£1.9 million) from 1,249 screens to take fourth spot.

The top ten films at the US box office are:

1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
2. I Am Legend
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks
4. Sweeney Todd
5. Charlie Wilson's War
6. PS I Love You
7. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
8. Enchanted
9. The Golden Compass
10. Juno

23/12/2007 11:54:50