Universal's heist thriller Inside Man cracked the box office code as launchedat number one on a powerful estimated $28.9m weekend gross.

Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster star in Spike Lee's$45m picture, in which Owen's bank robber engages in a battle of wits withWashington's hostage negotiator.

The debut scored career highs for Washington and Lee and opened toexcellent reviews, averaging $10,279 in 2,818 theatres.

Spyglass Entertainment's horror tale Stay Alive opened to dire reviews but still scored thirdplace on $11.2m and an average of $5,578 in 2,009 theatres.

Directed by William Brent Bell, Stay Alive centres on a group of video gamers whowill die if their game characters perish. Jon Foster and Samaire Armstrongstar.

Lionsgate's comedy Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector opened to abysmal reviews in seventhplace on $7.1m, averaging $4,122 in 1,710 theatres.

Trent Cooper's picture stars the stand-up comedian Larry as arestaurant health inspector who investigates a bout of food poisoning. JoePantoliano and David Koechner also star.

Warner Bros' V For Vendetta slipped to second place in its second weekend on $12.3m for $46.2m,while Paramount's romantic comedy Failure To Launch fell two to fourth on $10.8m for $63.9m after two.

Rounding out the top five was Buena Vista's The Shaggy Dog, which has grossed $47.9m after three.

Next weekend's wide releases are Fox's animated sequel Ice Age:The Meltdown voiced byJohn Leguizamo, Ray Romano and Queen Latifah, among others; Sony's thriller BasicInstinct 2 in whichSharon Stone reprises her role as the infamous Catherine Tramell opposite NeilMorrissey; and Universal's horror tale Sliver starring Nathan Fillion.

Estimated Top Ten North America Mar 24-26 2006

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend

gross/Estimatedtotal to date

1 (-) Inside Man (Universal) UIP $28.9m -

2 (1) V For Vendetta (Warner Bros) WBPI $12.3m $46.2m

3 (-) Stay Alive (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $11.2m -

4 (2) Failure To Launch (Paramount) UIP $10.8m $63.9m

5 (3) The Shaggy Dog (Buena Vista) BVI $9.1m $47.9m

6 (4) She's The Man (DreamWorks) Lakeshore International $7.4m $20.5m

7 (-) Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector (Lionsgate) LGFI $7.1m -

8 (5) The Hills Have Eyes (Fox Searchlight) Fox Int'l $4.3m $35.6m

9 (7) Eight Below (Buena Vista) Spyglass $2.7m $77.2m

10 (6) 16Blocks (Warner Bros)Warner Bros/Nu Image $2.2m $34.1m