Dreamworks animation Monsters vs Aliens has claimed the biggest US box office opening of the year with $58.2 million (£41 million).

The action comedy - featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland and Rogen - surpassed the $55.2 million (£39 million) taken earlier this month by superhero film Watchmen.

Despite the global financial crisis, escapist adventures such as Monsters vs Aliens - which sees classic Hollywood monsters battling an evil extraterrestrial - are beating the recession, according to industry analysts.

"The recession offers a framework from which movies can do well for people looking to escape," said Paul Dergarabedian, head of box office monitor Media By Numbers.

"But they have to want to escape to these movies. The appeal has to be there, and it clearly was for Monsters vs Aliens."

The animation can also be viewed in 3D and though only 28 per cent of US screens offered the more expensive enhanced screening, this accounted for more than half - 55 per cent - of the film's opening weekend takings.

"Audiences donned 3D glasses in the biggest way ever," said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation.

"Monsters vs Aliens serves as valuable proof of concept for the next generation of 3D."

Horror film The Haunting in Connecticut debuted in second with $23 million (£16.2 million) while last week's number one, action film Knowing, fell to third.

The top ten films at the US box office are: (last week's position)

1 Monsters vs Aliens (-)
2 The Haunting in Connecticut (-)
3 Knowing (1)
4 I Love You, Man (2)
5 Duplicity (3)
6 Race to Witch Mountain (4)
7 12 Rounds (-)
8 Watchmen (5)
9 Taken (7)
10 The Last House on the Left (6)


30/03/2009 09:30:32