'Women,' 'Chocolat' also on top

It truly was a monster weekend overseas as “Hannibal” wolfed down approximately $23.5 million from boffo bows in the U.K., German-speaking territories and Australia, plus huge holdover biz in Italy.

Also satiating auds, “What Women Want” wowed France and Germany (in the latter, surprisingly topping “Hannibal,” although the scarefest was on far fewer screens), while “Chocolat” had plenty of customers in Oz.

Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” gobbled up $9.5 million in three days on 426 prints in the U.K. (including previews), an all-time record for UIP, the industry’s fifth-biggest in history and a new high mark for a R-rated pic (doubling “Snatch.”)

Handled by Tobis in Germany, the Anthony Hopkins/Julianne Moore starrer seized $6.6 million in four days on 570, the territory’s highest R-rated entry ever. The frightener collared $2.6 million in four days on 302 in Australia, including sneaks (setting records for a February bow and for any restricted classification release), $780,000 in four days on 65 in Austria, and $650,000 on 49 in Switzerland.

In Italy, pic dropped by a reasonable 33% after posting the highest debut ever by a U.S. production, garnering a whopping $9.5 million in 10 days on 460 prints for Filmauro.

Germans love ‘Women’

“What Women Want” commanded pole position in Germany, seducing $7.4 million on 741, ranking among the top 10 openings of all time there and a personal best for Mel Gibson, doubling “Ransom.” The romantic comedy also took top spot in Austria with $1.1 million on 91, 250% better than “The Patriot.”

The Gibson/Helen Hunt starrer sashayed into France as a strong No. 2 behind Gallic phenom “La Verite Si Je Mens 2,” which nabbed $7.4 million on 834 screens, a 33% decline. Thomas Gilou’s comedy centering on the lives and loves of a group of friends who work in Sentier, Paris’ colorful garment district, has sold 4.3 million tickets in 12 days, racking up $21.7 million. In Italy, “What Women Want” had a dynamite second weekend, adding screens and boosting business by 5%, cuming $6.9 million; in the U.K. it’s amassed a handsome $15.6 million after its third lap.

“Chocolat” proved effective counter-programming Down Under to the male-skewing Hannibal Lecter, ringing up $550,000 on 55, including Valentine’s Day sneaks.

‘Cast’ keeps scoring

“Cast Away” coined an estimated $7.2 million in 31 markets, hoisting its cume to $129.7 million, spurred partly by the Philippines’ fabulous $503,000 five-day debut on 52.

Benefiting from the school vacation in Europe, “102 Dalmatians” earned an estimated $6.1 million, propelling its cume to $71.6 million. Canine caper has fetched $8.5 million through the third outing in France (slipping just 7%), $4.9 million in 11 days in Germany (falling 27%), $1.9 million in 10 days in Spain (off 12%) and nearly $1 million in 11 days in Austria.

After a potent preem in Japan, “Unbreakable” conjured up $2.5 million in its soph session (sliding 38%), bringing the nine-day tally to a formidable $11.2 million; cume is $133.1 million.

Early in its foreign campaign, “The Emperor’s New Groove” drummed up $1.8 million on 442 in the U.K. (including previews), a mid-level entry in the Disney animated canon, on par with “Pocahontas” but below “Mulan.”

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