8 Mile, the rites of passage drama that marks the film debut of rapper Eminem, dominated the US box office on its opening weekend. Directed by LA Confidential's Curtis Hanson, the movie startled most observers by stirring up a potent $54.5m in its first three days of release. This tally has given it the second best opening for an R-rated movie in the US, beaten only by Hannibal, which debuted last year with $58m.
A thinly veiled biographical saga, 8 Mile stars Eminem as Jimmy Smith Jr, a white wannabe rapper growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in suburban Detroit. The film co-stars Brittany Murphy as his faithless love interest and Kim Basinger, who previously worked with Hanson on LA Confidential, as Smith's trashy mom. 8 Mile has been largely applauded by the US critics, who hailed it as a grungy re-working of the American dream. Chicago Tribune critic Roger Ebert judged it to be "the real thing", while Kenneth Turan of the LA Times described it as "surprisingly compelling."
8 Mile's bumper haul knocked its rivals down a notch on the chart. Last week's victor, The Santa Clause 2, fell to the second spot with weekend takings of $24.8m. The horror-thriller The Ring was at number three, I Spy at number four, and Jackass: The Movie at five. The only other new entry on the chart was Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale, which opened in ninth place with a disappointing $2.8m.
· 8 Mile is showing as part of the London film festival on November 15 and 16