Hollywood comedy Evan Almighty has reached the number one spot in the North American box office, but with much lower ticket sales than expected.

The film starring Steve Carell made $31.1 million (£15.6 million) between Friday and Sunday, distributor Universal Pictures said, making it the smallest-grossing top film in the US this summer.

A sequel of sorts to Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty, in which Carell co-starred, Evan Almighty cost more than $175 million (£87.5 million) to make.

The movie sees Carell, who made his name in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the US version of Ricky Gervais' The Office, given the task of building a modern-day Noah's Ark by Morgan Freeman, who reprises his earlier role as God.

A joint statement from Universal chairman Marc Shmuger and co-chairman David Linde insisted that producers were still positive Evan Almighty would win over cinemagoers.

"As this weekend's positive audience rating polls indicate, the charms of Evan Almighty are persuasive, and we have every hope that moviegoers will continue to discover it in the weeks ahead," a statement read.

Evan Almighty is not due for release in Britain until August 3rd.

1408  the latest big screen adaptation of a Stephen King horror story, debuted at two in the weekend charts, while Angelina Jolie's A Mighty Heart had opening returns of $4 million (£2 million).

Jolie is already being tipped to win an Oscar for her portrayal of the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl.

Top ten US films

1 Evan Almighty ($32.1 million)
2 1408 ($20.2 million)
3 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($20.2 million)
4 Ocean's Thirteen ($11.3 million)
5 Knocked Up ($10.6 million)
6 Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End ($7.2 million)
7 Surf's Up ($6.7 million)
8 Shrek the Third ($5.8 million)
9 Nancy Drew ($4.5 million)
10 A Mighty Heart ($4 million)

25/06/2007 15:06:19