Los Angeles The Eminem show has conquered movie theaters.
"8 Mile," the rapper's semi-autobiographical movie debut, took in $54.5 million in its first weekend - the sort of success that eludes most pop stars when they try to cross over to film.
It was the second-best opening ever for an R-rated film behind "Hannibal," which debuted last year with $58 million.
The big debut and strong results for holdover films lifted the overall box office. The top 12 movies grossed $133.8 million, up 15 percent over the same weekend last year.
In "8 Mile," Eminem plays a young white singer struggling in the black-dominated hip-hop scene of Detroit's bleak Eight Mile area, where Eminem grew up.
"8 Mile" bumped last weekend's No. 1 movie, "The Santa Clause 2," into second place with $24.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The triumph of "8 Mile" follows the No. 1 debut of the film's soundtrack this month and the chart-topping success of the singer's latest album, "The Eminem Show."
The movie's huge opening indicates Eminem has gained more mainstream acceptance after critics branded him a homophobe and misogynist for violent, obscenity-laced lyrics on his previous best-selling records.
Universal, which distributed the movie, said women made up 53 percent of the audience. And while 69 percent of the audience was younger than 25, a fair number of older adults showed up, the studio said.
The weekend's only other new wide release, Brian De Palma's crime thriller "Femme Fatale," opened weakly at No. 9 with $2.8 million, averaging $2,655 in 1,066 theaters.
Singers such as Ice Cube and LL Cool J have done well on film but often in ensemble or supporting roles. Madonna has had a fitful film career, including the major flops "Shanghai Surprise" and this fall's "Swept Away." Britney Spears' "Crossroads" was a minor success last spring.
Mariah Carey had perhaps the most notable bomb among pop-star flicks with last year's "Glitter."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:
1. "8 Mile," $54.5 million.
2. "The Santa Clause 2," $24.8 million.
3. "The Ring," $16 million.
4. "I Spy," $9 million.
5. "Jackass: The Movie," $7.2 million.
6. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," $5.8 million.
7. "Sweet Home Alabama," $3.8 million.
8. "Ghost Ship," $3.2 million.
9. "Femme Fatale," $2.8 million.
10. "Punch-Drunk Love," $2.6 million.