The Girl on the Train has steamed ahead of its rivals to top the US box office on its opening weekend.

The thriller, starring Emily Blunt as an alcoholic trying to solve the mystery of a missing person, took $24.7 million – with 68% of the audience made up of women. Last weeks’s number one, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, made $15 million to take second place.

New entry The Birth of a Nation only made $7.1 million.

The slave rebellion drama is written and directed by Nate Parker, who has faced recent media scrutiny over a historic rape trial and also stars in the film. It failed to make the top five in the North American box office.

On its opening night on Thursday, protesters held a silent vigil outside a Los Angeles cinema for victims of rape and sexual assault.

Recent media attention has been focused on Parker’s acquittal for rape in 1999 and his accuser’s subsequent suicide.