This file image provided by Lucasfilm shows a scene from the upcoming "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," expected in theatres in December. Picture: Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm via AP

Washington - "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" netted an estimated $220 million (about R2.9 billion) in North America on its opening weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations, a figure bettered only by 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

It was followed in second place by computer-animated comedy "Ferdinand" which took $13 million (R170 million) on what was also its debut weekend.

The latest instalment in the hugely popular sci-fi saga was widely expected to cash in on 12 months of relentless hype with one of the biggest domestic opening weekends.

It has won early critical acclaim even as movie-goers have been more circumspect, earning it a tepid 57 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 93 percent among professional reviewers.

Last weekend's number one "Coco," a colourful Pixar movie set in Mexico, was beat out to third place with $10 million.

Feel-good film "Wonder" starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay slid to fourth, taking $5.4 million (about R71 million) while "Justice League" fell to fifth with $4.2 million (about R55 million).

Rounding out the top ten were:

"Daddy's Home 2" - $3.8 million (R50 million)

"Thor: Ragnarok" - $2.9 million (R38 million)

"The Disaster Artist" - $2.6 million (R34 million)

"Murder On The Orient Express"  - $2.5 million (R33 million)

"Lady Bird"  - $2.1 million (about R28 million)