The Da Vinci Code opened powerfully in NorthAmerica this weekend with a gross of $77m, making it the first of the year'ssummer blockbusters to live up to expectations.

Unlike Da Vinci's massive $147m internationaltake, the domestic gross - from 3,735 screens, for a $20,616 per-screen average- broke no all-time records (it ranks thirteenth in the opening weekends top20). But it was the biggest first weekend of the year so far, beating manypre-release predictions and looking especially good in the wake of lessimpressive debuts for Mission: Impossible III and Poseidon.

The Sony/Imagine thriller -- adapted from the smashhit novel by Dan Brown, with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou starring and Ron Howarddirecting -- survived some damning reviews and attacks from religious groupswho objected to the story of American and French academics delving into asecret history of the Christian church.

The film recorded a $30m opening day on Friday andjust about kept up that pace over the rest of the weekend. Its long termfortunes will become more clear next weekend, when negative reviews might beginto have more effect and when competition arrives in the shape of X-Men: TheLast Stand.

Paramount's computer-animated Over The Hedge,produced by DreamWorks Animation, opened as counter-programming to Da Vinci andcame in second with a strong $37.3m from 4,059 theatres (for a $9,172 average).Featuring the voices of Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling, and directed by TimJohnson and Karey Kirkpatrick, the family-oriented comedy got mostly favourablereviews and found an audience outside the Da Vinci clique.

The weekend's other new wide release, Lionsgate'shorror outing See No Evil, had a tougher time finding its teen audienceand ended up with an estimated $4.4m from 1,257 screens (for a $3,461 average),taking sixth place on the chart. Slammed by critics, the film (the firstproduced by World Wrestling Entertainment) stars Glen Jacobs and ChristinaVidal and is directed by Gregory Dark.

Among holdovers, Paramount's Mission: ImpossibleIII dropped 56% in its third week to $11m from 3,450 theatres (average -$3,193) and came in third. The performance pushed the sequel's domestic totalto $103.2m.

Warner's Poseidon had to settle for fourthafter falling 58% in its second week to $9.2m from 3,555 theatres (average -$2,588). The disaster movie's domestic total now stands at a meager $36.8m.

Sony's RV continued to hold up well, falling49% in its fourth week to $5.1m and pushing its ongoing total past $50m.

Fox's Just My Luck was off 41% in its secondweek with a gross of $3.4m for a $10.5m total.

Next weekend's only wide release is anotherpotential box office record-breaker, Fox's comic book sequel X-Men: The LastStand, starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.

Estimated Top Ten North America May 19-21, 2006

Film (Distributor)/Internationaldistribution/Estimated weekend

gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) The Da Vinci Code (Sony) SPRI $77m-

2 (-) Over The Hedge (Paramount) UIP $37.2m-

3 (1) Mission: Impossible III (Paramount)UIP $11m $103.2m

4 (2) Poseidon (Warner) Warner $9.2m $36.8m

5 (3) RV (Sony) SPRI $5.1m $50.4m

6 (-) See No Evil (Lionsgate) LFI $4.4m -

7 (4) Just My Luck (Fox) Fox Intl $3.4m$10.5m

8 (5) An American Haunting (Freestyle) TheLittle Film Company $1.7m $13.6m

9 (6) United 93 (Universal) UIP/StudioCanal$1.4m $28.3m

10 (9) Akeelah And The Bee (Lionsgate) LFI$1m $15.7m