Despite claiming the top spot, analysts described the debut of the monster remake disappointing.
Costing $200m (£158m) to make, reviews have been lukewarm for the film, which stars Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler.
Its total for the three-day weekend was far off its predecessor’s debut of $93m (£73.6m) back in 2014.
The film’s plot centres around a group of eco-terrorists who steal a sonar device developed by scientist Emma (Farmiga) to control Godzilla, with her ex-husband (Chandler) recruited to track it down.
The new iteration is Stranger Things’ Millie Bobbie Brown’s blockbuster debut.
Speaking to BBC News, film critic Karen Krizanovich said: “Godzilla is one for fans only… ignore the human story and marvel at the monsters, great aeroplanes and fab supporting cast.
“Godzilla physically is his largest… and in every film iteration he grows bigger. The film was disappointing but it was Gojira [Godzilla’s original name) and it’s still a great franchise, if only to hear his signature roar.”
Fellow critic Jason Solomons added: “The brand is still strong in that kids everywhere want to see Godzilla. And while this instalment is a mess on screen you get the feeling everyone’s waiting for the big contest of Godzilla vs Kong, which is coming soon…
“So as a filler, this does a job but it should also serve as a lesson in getting the tone right – it needs more B-movie corniness – and in knowing that all anyone wants to see is monsters clashing, not humans whining.”
Other reviewers had even more reservations.
The Guardian’s Simran Hans described it as “beastly in all the wrong ways”, giving it one star out of five.
Ben Travis, writing for Empire Online, was equally scathing: “What you’re left with is a catastrophically dumb, thunderously boring blockbuster as numbing and unsatisfying as the worst Transformers movies – even one hilariously nutty sub-aquatic development can’t liven things up.”
But not everyone was unimpressed.
Collider’s editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub described it as “awesome”, adding: “It’s everything I wanted last movie to be but wasn’t.”
The original Japanese film, Gojira, was released by studio Toho in 1954 and two years later, an Americanised version came out in the US.
Gojira spawned a series of follow-up films including Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla Raids Again and Godzilla versus King Ghidorah.
More recent films in the franchise include Godzilla: Final Wars and Shin Godzilla.
Among the best known foreign versions, Tristar released Godzilla in 1997 but it was poorly received.
Gareth Edwards’ Legendary Pictures film, also titled simply Godzilla, was a box office and critical success, hence the new sequel – directed by Michael Dougherty – getting the green light.
Godzilla vs Kong is due to come out next year.