Warner Bros' dystopian thriller V For Vendetta vanquished the opposition at the weekenddebuting at the top of the charts on an estimated $26.1m.

Directed by James McTeigue from a an adapted screenplay by theWachowski Brothers of Alan Moore's cult graphic novel, the picture stars HugoWeaving as a masked freedom fighter battling with a totalitarian future Britishstate. Natalie Portman stars as his reluctant recruit.

V For Vendetta opened to strong reviews and averaged $7,766 from 3,365 screens.However it still wasn't enough to stop the annual box office slide, as the top12 titles combined for $93.8m, down 11% against the same weekend last year.

DreamWorks' romantic comedy She's The Man starring Amanda Byrnesopened in fourth place to mixed reviews on $11m. The picture, directed by AndyFickman, and averaged $4,198 from 2,623 screens.

Paramount's rom-com Failure To Launch fell one place to second in its secondweekend on $15.8m for $48.5m, while Buena Vista's family title The ShaggyDog added $13.6m inthird place for a total of $35.9m.

Rounding out the top five is Fox Searchlight's The Hills HaveEyes, which grossed$8.1m for $28.8m after two.

Fox Searchlight opened its Toronto hit and tobacco industry satireThank You For Smoking to impressive results on a five-screen limited release.Jason Reitman's picture, which stars Aaron Eckhart and Maria Bello, scored$260,066 for the weekend's biggest per-screen average of $52,013.

Estimated Top Ten North America Mar 17-19 2006

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend

gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) V For Vendetta (Warner Bros) WBPI $26.1m Ð

2 (1) Failure To Launch (Paramount) UIP $15.8m $48.5m

3 (2) The Shaggy Dog (Buena Vista) BVI $13.6m $35.9m

4 (-) She's The Man (DreamWorks) Lakeshore International $11m Ð

5(3) The Hills Have Eyes (FoxSearchlight) Fox Int'l $8.1m $28.8m

6 (4) 16 Blocks (Warner Bros) Warner Bros/Nu Image $4.7m $30.2m

7 (6) Eight Below (Buena Vista) Spyglass $4.2m $73.1m

8 (5) Madea's Family Reunion (Lionsgate) LGFI $3m $60.1m

9 (9) The Pink Panther (MGM/Columbia) Fox Int'l $2.5m $78.6m

10 (7) Aquamarine (Fox) Fox Int'l $2m $15.7m