Death Note series sequel L: Change The World opened at the top of the Japanese box office, achieving the biggest single weekend earnings of the year so far.

Released by Warner Brothers on 398 screens on February 9, the film grossed $5.29m (Y567.5m) on 444,076 admissions for a strong per screen average of $13,294.

Earnings for the three-day holiday weekend totaled $7.89m (Y846m) on 670,754 admissions. The totals easily surpass other successful releases this year including Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd ($3.71m opening) and hit documentary Earth ($3.34m opening).

In comparison to the first two Death Note films, released in June and November of 2006, the success of the third installment falls in the middle, opening at 140% of the original film and 75% of the sequel.

WB estimates a final gross of $37.28m (Y4bn), which would bring the series' grand total to $111.87m (Y12bn). Aside from setting DVD sales records, the original manga, animated series and tie-in merchandise make the NTV-produced franchise one of the most lucrative in the territory.

Additionally, L: Change The World had a pan-Asian day-and-date release in Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand.

It opened against TBS-Toho's medical thriller The Glorious Team Batista, which ranked second with $2.44m, followed by recent releases Kabei (Shochiku) and Flowers In The Shadow (Toho), giving local films the top four slots above Earth and American Gangster.

The first two Death Note movies were directed by Shusuke Kaneko but Ring director Hideo Nakata took the helm for the latest entry.

Based on characters from the hit manga, L's more action-based original story focuses on the titular junk food-eating genius detective, played by Ken'ichi Matsuyama, as he battles an organisation that creates a virus that threatens to wipe out half the world's population.