British soccer comedy movie Bend It Like Beckham has become a surprise box office hit in America - taking $2.7 million in its first few weeks of release.

Movie analysts now predict the film, about a female sports star inspired by English soccer heart-throb David Beckham, could become a major sleeper hit in the States, much like 2002 comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding which eventually scooped $225 million (GBP150 million).

Bend it like Beckham, which stars British actresses Parminder Nagra and Star Wars: EPISODE ONE star Keira Knightley, has been helped in a country where soccer is still only a fringe sport, by generous reviews.

TIME magazine called it the "brightest, funniest and most refreshing" film of the year, and Entertainment Weekly described it as "funny, buoyant and exhilarating".

Much to the delight of distributors FOX SEARCHLIGHT.

Spokeswoman NANCY UTLEY says, "It's soccer, it's girls, and it's got English accents. Conventionally, any of them would be a challenge. But the movie delivers."