Noah tops US box office

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe's Noah has weathered a sea of controversy to arrive in first place at the US box office.

Director Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic - which led some religious groups to claim the story had been inaccurately portrayed and prompted Paramount to add a disclaimer saying it is not a literal adaptation - took in 44 million US dollars (£26.4 million) to take the top spot.

Noah, which also stars Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, also sailed smoothly in 22 international markets, earning 33.6 million dollars (£20.1 million) abroad.

"It certainly feels like the film has really connected with both mainstream movie-goers who are looking for a really sophisticated film and those folks who really want to see a movie that honours their faith," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said.

"It's been a very interesting journey to get to this point, but it's definitely a spectacular launch."

Elsewhere at the box office, Divergent starring Shailene Woodley earned 26.5 million dollars (£15.9 million) in its second weekend, bringing its American total to 95.3 million (£57.2 million).

Muppets Most Wanted, the globe-trotting Muppet sequel from Disney featuring Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais, came in third place in its second weekend.

The weekend's other major new release, Sabotage, flopped in the seventh spot with 5.3 million dollars (£3.1 million). The action flick, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the latest failure for the former California Governor, whose The Last Stand and Escape Plan were box office duds last year.

Disney's Captain America: The Winter Soldier dominated 32 international markets by capturing 75.2 million dollars (£45.1). The sequel stars Chris Evans as the patriotic Marvel super-soldier.