Mel Gibson's Mayan dialect film Apocalypto has grabbed the top spot at the US box office.
The film has been criticised by some groups in Central America
The epic, which has faced criticism from Mayan groups, took an estimated $14.2m (£7.3m) in its first weekend.
There had been a feeling in Hollywood that Gibson had harmed his career following anti-Semitic comments he made during his drink-driving arrest.
But Chuck Viane, of distributor Disney, said: "The movie obviously succeeds on its own level."
He added: "I think people probably are a bit on the surprised side around town that it's number one. Two months ago, nobody would have bet on that."
Apocalypto, which shows the conquest of one Central American tribe by an aggressive neighbour, has been criticised by some groups for portraying the ancient cultures as savages.
NORTH AMERICAN BOX OFFICE
1. Apocalypto ($14.2m)
2. The Holiday ($13.5m)
3. Happy Feet ($12.7m)
4. Casino Royale ($8.8m)
5. Blood Diamond ($8.5m)
6. Unaccompanied Minors ($6.2m)
7. Deja Vu ($6m)
8. The Nativity Story($5.4m)
9. Deck the Halls ($3.9m)
10. The Santa Clause 3 ($3.3m)
Source: Exhibitor Relations
The film's strong opening is dwarfed in comparison to Gibson's last effort, The Passion of the Christ, which made $83.8m (£42.9m) in its first weekend.
Festive romantic comedy The Holiday came in second place in the North American chart with $13.5m (£7m).
Previous chart-topper Happy Feet was in third place with $12.7m (£6.5m), staying ahead of James Bond's Casino Royale which took $8.8m (£4.5m).
Violent thriller Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, rounded out the top five, earning an estimated $8.5m (£4.35m) over the weekend.
Sales for the weekend were down from a year ago, with the top 12 films grossing $86.7m (£44.35m) this weekend, compared with $115.8m (£59.2m) a year before.