Shutter Island is the fourth film that DiCaprio (r) has made with Scorsese
Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese's new film with Leonardo DiCaprio, has topped the US and Canada box office chart with first weekend takings of $40.2m (£26m).
The dark thriller stars DiCaprio as a cop investigating a disappearance at a hospital for the criminally insane.
It had been scheduled for release last October before being abruptly bumped to February by its distributor Paramount.
Last week's top movie, romantic comedy Valentine's Day, fell down to two, with Avatar still going strong at three.
Worldwide, James Cameron's sci-fi epic has now made just short of $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion).
Shutter Island's better than expected performance represents a personal best for Scorsese, the Oscar-winning director of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
His biggest opener in North America before this weekend came in 2006 when crime drama The Departed made $26.9m (£17.4m) in its first weekend on release.
TOP 5 FILMS IN US & CANADA
1. Shutter Island ($40.2m)
2. Valentine's Day ($17.2m)
3. Avatar ($16.1m)
4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief ($15.3m)
5. The Wolfman ($9.8m)
Paramount's vice-chairman Rob Moore has defended putting Shutter Island's release back, a decision that made it ineligible for this year's Academy Awards.
"We knew more time was only going to help us get the word out and get a broader audience," he said.
As well as Scorsese's film performed, however, it was trounced on a screen-for-screen basis by Roman Polanski's latest The Ghost Writer.
Opening at just four cinemas in New York and Los Angeles, the political thriller made $179,000 (£115,686) over the weekend - an average of $44,750 (£28,921) per screen.
In contrast, Shutter Island - which opened in almost 3,000 cinemas - made an average of just $13,440 (£8,686) per screen.
Polanski's arrest in Switzerland last year may have stoked interest in the title, which tells of a writer hired to "ghost" a former Prime Minister's memoirs.
Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan star in the film, to be released in the UK on 16 April as The Ghost.
Shutter Island is out in the UK on 12 March.