Ridley Scott's new film America Gangster has stormed to the top of the US box office after its first three days on release.

The Universal Studios crime thriller - starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington - took an estimated $46.3 million (£22.6 million) in its opening weekend, knocking Jerry Seinfeld's new animated film Bee Movie into second spot.

It was the biggest ever opening for both Crowe and Washington, surpassing Gladiator's $34.8 million (£16.7 million) debut and Inside Man's $29 million (£13.9 million) opening weekend in March 2006.

"It's a great movie, and the timing was perfect to jump-start the business," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco told the Hollywood Reporter.

The previous six weekends had all registered year-on-year declines for box office grosses.

"Everything just worked," Rocco added. "The picture was well done and well marketed, and it was placed in the market at a time when its adult audience could Embrace it."

Bee Movie took an impressive $39.1 million (£18.8 million) to push last week's number one Saw IV into third, while Disney's Steve Carell comedy Dan in Real Life grossed a creditable $8.l million (£3.9 million) in its second week on release to finish fourth.

American Gangster hits UK screens on November 16th.

05/11/2007 11:48:34