Mission: Impossible III dominated global box offices at the weekend, taking an estimated $118m (£63m).
Tom Cruise's private life has dominated the film's campaign
But it performed worse in the US and Canada than overseas, leading some reports to dub it a disappointment.
It made $48m (£26m) in ticket sales at North American cinemas between Friday and Sunday, studios estimated.
That would mean 7.3 million people saw the movie - compared with 10.7 million for the last film and 10.3 million for the first Mission: Impossible.
But the previous two instalments opened on holiday weekends, when attendances are generally higher.
Film company Paramount pointed out the film's global takings were up on the $115m (£62m) debut for Mission: impossible II.
US AND CANADA TOP FIVE FILMS
1. Mission: Impossible III, $48m
2. RV, $11.1m
3. An American Haunting, $6.4m
4. Stick It, $5.5m
5. United 93, $5.2m
Source: Exhibitor Relations. Figures cover Friday to Sunday.
Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking company Exhibitor Relations, said: "Expectations were really high for this film.
"I think it's a good number, but people were obviously expecting better numbers."
The film still had the second most lucrative opening weekend for any movie this year so far.
It could not match Ice Age: The Meltdown, which opened with $68m (£36.5m) last month.
Cruise embarked on a series of high-profile promotional trips for the film shortly after becoming a father with actress Katie Holmes.
Paramount head of worldwide marketing and distribution Rob Moore said he did not think Cruise's private life had any impact on the film's box office performance.
"I don't think so," he said. "There's no question it concerns us if the press is writing about things other than the movie.
"If people are writing about his personal life, then by definition, they're not writing about the movie."
Mission: Impossible III also stars Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and is the first feature film to be directed by Lost and Alias creator JJ Abrams.
A distant second in the North American box office chart, comedy RV took an estimated $11.1m (£6m) over the weekend.
Horror film An American Haunting was a new entry at third, earning $6.4m (£3.4m).