Ang Lee's adaptation of The Hulk went on the rampage at cinemas across North America - taking $62.6m (£37.6m) over the weekend, according to early estimates.
On the run: The Hulk
The film, based on the comic book character, set a new record for a June release, but it was a long way behind its Marvel stablemate Spider-Man, which took a record $114.8m on its first three days last year.
It also failed to beat X2: X-Men United, which raked in $85.6m when it opened in the US and Canada last month.
Producer Avi Arad said: "It's interesting we have created such high expectations that I get questions like: 'Are you disappointed with $62m?'"
Arad said he was thrilled with the opening, considering the film's darker themes and what he called "weird" reviews, as well as poor feedback from previews of the computer-generated Hulk.
Eric Bana plays Bruce Banner
"People coming out of the movie didn't seem to have anything but high praise for what the creature ended up looking like, because they saw it for the first time in context, not just seeing a frozen picture of the Hulk."
Taiwanese film-maker Ang Lee's last project, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was an international hit buit many critics were bemused by his $150m (£90m) project, which stars Australian Eric Bana as mild-mannered Bruce Banner, who mutates into the green beast when he becomes angry.
Hollywood stars Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott also have leading roles in the film, which opens in the UK on 18 July.
In the US, Entertainment Weekly called it "humourless" while the New York Post called it "messy" and the Washington Post's opinion was "belaboured".
Already, writer and producer James Schamus is working on a script for a sequel, while Bana is contracted to reprise his starring role.
US/CANADA TOP FIVE
1) The Hulk
2) Finding Nemo
3) 2 Fast 2 Furious
4) Bruce Almighty
5) The Italian Job
Source: Exhibitor Relations
The Hulk knocked last week's biggest film, underwater Disney tale Finding Nemo, down to second place, after it added $20.5m (£12.3m) to its box office haul.
The subterranean fantasy, produced with animation specialist Pixar, has taken an estimated $228m (£137m) since it made its debut four weeks ago.
Other new releases included a low-budget spin-off from TV talent show American Idol, From Justin To Kelly, starring last year's runner up Justin Guarini and winner Kelly Clarkson.
The low-budget love story - written by Kim Fuller, brother of the show's creator Simon and the man who penned Spice Girls spin-off Spice World - came in at number 11, taking $2.9m (£1.7m).
Director Rob Reiner's romantic comedy Alex and Emma, starring Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson, opened at number seven, after taking $6.2m (£3.7m). The film is not due out in the UK until December.