Reese Witherspoon has scored the biggest September opening in US box office history with her new film, 'Sweet Home Alabama'.

The romantic comedy took an estimated $37.5m across the States in its opening weekend.

Witherspoon plays a New York fashion designer who returns to her hometown to divorce her estranged husband, only to discover that she has more ties to her southern past than she realised.

Directed by Andy Tennant, ('Ever After' and 'Anna And The King'), the film also stars Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Ethan Embry and Candice Bergen.

'Sweet Home Alabama' beat previous September record holder, 1999's 'Rush Hour', by $4.5m.

Witherspoon has signed up to produce and star in the sequel to last summer's hit 'Legally Blonde' for a reported fee of $15m. 'Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde' is due for release in the US on 4 July 2003.