LOS ANGELES: “Noah,” the big screen adaptation of the biblical tale with Russell Crowe in the lead, took top honors at North American box offices on its debut weekend, industry data showed Monday.

The action drama, which reunites Crowe with Jennifer Connelly whom he starred alongside in “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001, earned $43.7 million, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said. It easily held off last week’s top earner “Divergent,” which took second spot with $25.6 million.

“Muppets Most Wanted,” Kermit and Co’s latest outing, was a distant third with $11.3 million in takings. The musical comedy caper was ahead of “Mr Peabody and Sherman,” based on characters from the 1960s television cartoon “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” which earned $9.1 million. In fifth place with $8.8 million was the religiously themed “God’s Not Dead,” which tells the story of a college freshman who debates his atheist philosophy professor.

It was trailed by Wes Anderson’s quirky “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which earned $8.5 million in the sixth spot. In a quiet week for new releases, the only other debut movie, “Sabotage,” took a disappointing seventh place with $5.3m in ticket sales. The action flick stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington.

It edged out car-chase action movie “Need for Speed,” which fell from sixth to eighth spot earning $4.2m, followed by ancient Greece fantasy-action movie “300: Rise of an Empire” - the gory prequel to the 2007 hit “300” - which took in $4.2 million in sales.