Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of RickyBobby took the chequered flag at theweekend with a superb $47m estimated haul that kept box office ahead of thesame period last year by 17%.
Sony executives were surprised by the power of the debut, despite very strongreviews, another star role for the popular Will Ferrell, and Nascar'sunimpeachable credentials as an American sports culture phenomenon.
Ferrell stars as an erratic racing driver who tussles for supremacy andself-respect against a French team-mate played by Sacha Baron-Cohen. John CReilly also stars in Adam McKay's comedy.
Paramount's animated feature Barnyard: The Original Party Animals opened well on $16m in second place following alacklustre critical response. Steve Oedekerk directed the feature, whichcorrals the vocal talents of Kevin James, Courteney Cox Arquette and SamElliott.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest added $11m for $37.79m as it fell one place to third in its fifthweekend, while last weekend's champion Miami Vice slipped three to fourth as $9.7m raised the tally to$45.7m for Universal.
Lionsgate's critically acclaimed Sundance horror picture The Descent opened on $8.8m in fifth and centres on a female caving expedition that falls prey to subterranean predators. Shauna Macdonaldand Natalie Mendoza head the ensemble cast and Neil Marshall directed.
Miramax's The Night Listenerrounded out the top 10 with a $3.6m debut. The mystery divided the critics andstars Robin Williams as a talk show host who befriends an enigmatic childcaller. Patrick Stettner directed the Armistead Maupin adaptation, which alsostars and Toni Collette and Rory Culkin.
Next weekend's wide releases are Paramount's 9/11 drama World Trade Centre, starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena; Sony'scomedy Zoom starring Tim Allenand Courteney Cox Arquette; Universal's comedy Accepted, which stars Justin Long and Blake Lively; The Weinstein Company's J-horror remake The Pulse starring Kristen Bell and Christina Milian; and Buena Vista's dance drama Step Up, which stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.
Estimated Top Ten North America Aug 4-6, 2006
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (-) Talladega Nights: TheBallad Of Ricky Bobby (Sony) SPRI$47m -
2 (-) Barnyard: The Original Party Animals (Paramount) UIP $16m -
3 (2) Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista) BVI $11m $379.7m
4 (1) Miami Vice (Universal) UIP$9.7m $45.7m
5 (-) The Descent (Lionsgate)Pathe $8.8m -
6 (3) John Tucker MustDie (Fox) Fox Int'l $6.1m $28.6m
7 (4) Monster House (Sony) SPRI$6m $56.9m
8 (5) The Ant Bully (Warner Bros)WBPI $3.9m $18.2m
9 (7) You, Me And Dupree (Universal)UIP $3.6m $66.8m
10 (-) The Night Listener (Miramax)Fortissimo $3.6m -