Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who! made a big noise at the North American box office this weekend, opening with a chart-topping estimated three-day gross of $45.1m. The computer animated comedy from 20th Century Fox and its Blue Sky Studios almost matched the debut of the companies' first hit Ice Age, which opened on the same pre-Easter weekend in 2002.

Among other new releases, Summit Entertainment's Never Back Down opened on target with an estimated $8.6m while Universal's Doomsday came in slightly below expectations with an estimated $4.7m.

Getting the widest opening of the year so far, Horton Hears A Who! took its $45.1m from 3,954 theatres, for a per-theatre average of $11,406. The G-rated Dr Seuss adaptation, with Jim Carrey and Steve Carell heading the voice cast and Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino directing, was well received by critics and drew kids and parents at the start of the Easter school holidays.

Horton's take beat studio projections and compares well to the $46.3m opening achieved in the corresponding 2002 release slot by Ice Age, which went on to gross $176.4m domestically. And it improved considerably on the $36m debut in March 2005 of Fox and Blue Sky's Robots.

The fully-animated Horton also opened better than live action Dr Seuss adaptation The Cat In The Hat, though it lagged behind the live version of Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Never Back Down, the first Summit production to be released through the company's new domestic distribution operation, earned third place in the North American chart with its estimated $8.6m from 2,729 theatres (for a $3,155 average).

The mixed martial arts (MMA) fight-fest, with Sean Faris and Djimon Hounsou starring, was slammed by critics but, with its PG-13 rating, pulled in plenty of younger MMA fans (who will have several more MMA movies to sample in coming months).

Doomsday, a futuristic action thriller produced by Universal's Rogue Pictures unit and Crystal Sky, ranked seventh in the chart with its estimated $4.7m from 1,936 theatres (average - $2,449). Written and directed by Neil Marshall and starring Rhonda Mitra and Bob Hoskins, the UK-set killer virus tale had a smaller potential audience because of its R rating.

Warner's 10,000 BC, which opened at the top of the chart last weekend, dropped by 54% but held on to second spot with an estimated $16.4m from 3,410 theatres (average - $4,813). Buena Vista's College Road Trip, which opened in second spot last weekend, fell 42% to $7.9m from 2,706 theatres (average - $2,916), to rank fourth.

Lions Gate Films' The Bank Job, which opened in fourth place last weekend, was down by only 17%, coming in sixth this weekend with an estimated $4.9m from 1,613 theatres (average - $3,044).

Next weekend's wide releases are: Paramount's Judd Apatow-produced high school comedy Drillbit Taylor, with Owen Wilson starring for director Steven Brill; Fox and Regency Enterprises' Thai horror remake Shutter, with Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor; and, from Lionsgate, Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns, the latest African-American comedy from writer-director-star Perry.

Estimated Top 10 North America March 14-16, 2008
Film (Dist)/Int'l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date
1 (-) Dr Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (Fox) Fox Int'l $45.1m -
2 (1) 10,000 BC (Warner Bros) WBPI $16.4m $61.2m
3 (-) Never Back Down (Summit) Summit $8.6m -
4 (2) College Road Trip (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $7.9m $24.3m
5 (3) Vantage Point (Sony) SPRI $5.4m $59.2m
6 (5) The Bank Job (Lionsgate) Arclight Films $4.9m $13.1m
7 (-) Doomsday (Rogue) Focus Features International/UPI $4.7m -
8 (4) Semi-Pro (New Line) NLI $3m $29.7m
9 (7) The Other Boleyn Girl (Sony) Focus Features International/UPI $2.9m $19.2m
10 (6) The Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount) PPI $2.4m $65.4m