Eagerly-awaited action movie Cloverfield has roared its way to the top of the US box office.

With opening weekend receipts of $41 million (£21 million) the monster movie has beaten the January record set by the reissue of Star Wars Episode I in January 1997.

A lengthy viral marketing campaign established Cloverfield's reputation, with fans eager to discover the clues behind mysterious trailers, specially-created web pages and the film's cryptic title.

With Mean Girls actress Lizzy Caplan the only star of note among the cast, Cloverfield - produced by Lost creator JJ Abrams - tracks the impact of a giant lizard on New York City through the hand-held camera of a young partygoer.

"I think this movie defines what we want to do at Paramount. It is a movie that took a big creative risk," Paramount vice chair Rob Moore told Variety.

"We really wanted to be in business with JJ and his team, who came up with a really creative execution. And the marketing and distribution team were able to execute a great campaign."

Last week's number one The Bucket List fell to third position with romantic comedy 27 dresses, starring Katherine Heigl and James Marsden, opening in second with an impressive $22.4 million (£11.5 million).

The top ten movies at the US box office are:

1 Cloverfield - $41.0m (£21 million)
2 27 Dresses - $22.4m (£11.5 million)
3 The Bucket List - $15.2m (£7.8 million)
4 Juno - $10.3m (£5.3 million)
5 National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $8.1m (£4.2 million)
6 First Sunday - $7.8m (£3.99 million)
7 Mad Money - $7.7m (£3.95 million)
8 Alvin and the Chipmunks - $7.0m (£3.6 million)
9 I Am Legend - $5.1m (£2.6 million)
10 Atonement - $4.8m (£2.5 million)

21/01/2008 10:39:03