True Grit seized the reins at the US weekend box office with 15 million dollars, taking the number one spot and becoming the first Western to top the 100 million dollar mark since the 1990s, according to studio estimates.
The Paramount release, starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, bumped off Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller's comedy Little Fockers, which was number one for the previous two weekends. Released by Universal, Little Fockers slipped to second with 13.8 million dollars, raising its total to 124 million.
True Grit, which was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, lifted its total to 110.4 million.
Among the box office newcomers, Nicolas Cage's supernatural thriller Season of the Witch opened at number three with 10.7 million dollars.
Gwyneth Paltrow's country-music drama Country Strong premiered at number six with 7.3 million. The Sony Screen Gems release casts Gwyneth as a boozy singer trying to get her act straight after rehab.
True Grit is a new take on Charles Portis' novel, previously adapted in a 1969 version that earned John Wayne an Academy Award. Bridges stars as lawman Rooster Cogburn, hired by a 14-year-old girl to track down her father's killer.
In Wayne's day, Westerns were a fixture in Hollywood, but the genre fell out of favour over the last 40 years. There was a small surge of Western hits in the 1990s, including Oscar best-picture winners Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven.
The past decade brought the cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain and the modestly successful Westerns Open Range and 3:10 to Yuma, but none approached the earnings of True Grit, which is also is the first 100 million dollar hit for the Coen brothers.