Norbit squats at the top of the US box office

The dodgy taste pandemic sweeping America like some sort of movie-going bird flu continues to grip the nation as Eddie Murphy’s latest multi-character blubber-thon has shot straight to the top of the charts.

Norbit, which finds him playing three characters – the skinny, henpecked titular husband; massive, sex-mad wife Rasputia and orphanage owner Mr Wong, clearly appealed to fans of Murphy’s fetish for a latex suit, as it made $33.7 million in its opening weekend. That makes it his second most successful launch, after The Nutty Professor II.

The week’s other launch – franchise prequel Hannibal Rising didn’t quite make such a splash. The bloodthirsty thriller, with Gaspard Ulliel taking over the role made (in)famous by Anthony Hopkins, only managed $13.3 million.

In third, the Diane Keaton comedy Because I Said So managed to gain ground on horror pic The Messengers, grabbing third place with $9 million against The Messengers’ $7.2 million, which had the creepy ghost pic dropping to fourth from last week’s first place launch.

At fifth, Ben Stiller’s Night At The Museum continues to rake in the dollars, nabbing $5.7 million in its eighth week of release, with $232 million in the bank to date. Sixth place went to Epic Movie, dropping quickly and making $4.4 million this week. Smokin’ Aces, meanwhile, slipped to seventh place, shooting for $3.8 million.

Down in eighth place, Pan’s Labyrinth continues to do well, opening wider in the US and taking in $3.5 million for a running total of $26.5 million. In terms of takings, it’s still trailing the ninth-placed Dreamgirls, which saw $3.1 million in ticket receipts, and has $97 million in total. Finally, sticking around in 10th place is her royal majesty – or at least Helen Mirren’s version of her – The Queen, with $2.5 million.