Madea (Tyler Perry, left) finds herself on the wrong side of the law
Tyler Perry's latest movie, Madea Goes To Jail, has entered the North American box office chart in pole position.
The comic romp, which sees the film-maker dress as his female character Madea, took $41.1m (£28.2m), a record opening for Perry.
Last week's chart-topper Friday the 13th slumped to six, while Liam Neeson thriller Taken rallied to two.
Buoyed ahead of its Oscars triumph, British film Slumdog Millionaire climbed back to number five.
The other best picture hopefuls, including Milk and Frost/Nixon, failed to make a return to the top 10.
US BOX OFFICE TOP FIVE
1 Madea Goes To Jail - $41.1m
2 Taken - $11.4m
3 Coraline - $11m
4 He's Just Not That Into You - $8.5m
5 Slumdog Millionaire - $8.1m
Source: Media By Numbers
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which converted just three of its 13 Academy Award nominations into statuettes, was the only one of the five films not to experience a box office upturn.
Media analysts are encouraged by box office performance in the US, which was 33% up on the same weekend in 2008.
Paul Dergarabedian of Media By Numbers, which compiles box office statistics, said: "This is the strongest box office start to the year that I've ever seen.
"This is the recessionary effect, funnelling people that otherwise might be doing other things straight to movie theatres," he added.