Black Panther on record-setting prowl across the US

Los Angeles - Black Panther swept all before it to pass the $500m mark in only its third week in North America as it stayed on track to be one of the highest-grossing films ever, final figures showed on Monday.

The 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero king of an idyllic if fictional African country, took in $66.3m for the weekend, box office monitor Exhibitor Relations reported.

That take - nearly four times the $16.9m earned by the weekend's runnerup, Fox's Red Sparrow - gave Black Panther the third-highest third weekend ever, trailing only Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($90.2m) and Avatar ($68.5m).

Disney-owned Marvel's latest in a string of superhero hits, co-starring Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya and Martin Freeman, has scored nearly $900m globally, with its opening in China still days away.

Red Sparrow tells the story of a Russian ballerina-turned-elite spy played by Jennifer Lawrence, backed by an all-star cast including Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling.

In third spot was MGM's new release Death Wish, with ticket sales of $13m. The remake of the 1974 cult classic stars Bruce Willis as a doctor who goes vigilante after a home invasion leaves his wife dead.

Next was comedy thriller Game Night, starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, which earned $10.4m. The Warner Bros. release tells the story of six friends who get together for beer and games and stumble into a reality game where lives may be at stake.

And in fifth place was Sony's Peter Rabbit, taking in $10m in its fourth week out. The film, which mixes live actors with computer-generated animation, is based loosely on the children's book by Beatrix Potter.

Rounding out the Top 5 are: Annihilation ($5.6m), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($4.4m), Fifty Shades Freed ($3.4m), The Greatest Showman ($2.7m) and Every Day ($1.6m).