U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 24 mins

'Noah' rains down on 'Divergent', 'Muppets' to win U.S. box office

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - "Noah", starring Russell Crowe as the biblical figure who built an ark to save his family and specimens of every animal from the great flood, collected $44 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to lead the weekend box office.

It sailed past last weekend's winner, "Divergent", which is based on the novel by Veronica Roth about a dystopian world divided into factions. "Divergent" collected $26.5 million and a total of $95 million since its March 21 release.

"Muppets Most Wanted", starring Ty Burrell and Tina Fey with Jim Henson's furry puppets, was third with $11.4 million in ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates provided by Rentrak.

"Noah" was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. Walt Disney Co distributed "Muppets". "Divergent" was released by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp .

(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Sophie Hares)