Invincible "Pirates of Caribbean" conquer North America

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" logged a third weekend as the most popular movie in North America while the latest films from directors M. Night Shyamalan and Ivan Reitman both bombed.

The monster swashbuckler "Pirates" earned $35 million, comfortably ahead of Sony Corp.'s animated creepfest "Monster House," which exceeded expectations with a $23 million debut, Reuters reports.

Shyamalan's mystical fantasy "Lady in the Water" followed at No. 3 with $18.2 million, while Reitman's romantic comedy "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" was No. 7 with $8.7 million. A fourth new release, director Kevin Smith's "Clerks II" was No. 6 with $9.6 million, broadly in line with expectations.

The total for "Pirates" sped to $321.7 million. It set a record for a film to reach $300 million - 16 days. The old mark of 17 days was set last year by "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." The last movie to enjoy a three-weekend stretch at No. 1 was the November 2005 release "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

The 12 top-grossing films this weekend brought in about 143.3 million dollars, up 10.8 percent over the 129.2 million dollars grossed during the same weekend last year. But the gross was down 10 percent compared with last weekend.

Despite some recent high-profile layoffs at the Hollywood studios, the box office is looking healthy. Revenue for the year is up 7 percent from last year, and attendance is up 3.8 percent, according to Exhibitor Relations, Xinhua reports.