'Proof of Life' sparks interest in Oz

Oscar hopefuls “Traffic” and “Chocolat” rolled out in key territories over the weekend with impressive results, while biz generally had to rely on tiring holdovers.

The frame was weighed down by some leaden freshmen, including “Finding Forrester” and “Red Planet” in Germany and Austria and “Proof of Life” in Spain; the Russell Crowe/Meg Ryan pairing did, however, spark healthy interest in Australia, outgunning “Hannibal’s” third course.

Ridley Scott’ gorefest did retain pole position in its soph session in Spain and its third in the U.K., but was a distant No. 2 to “What Women Want” in Germany and Austria, where both pics are in their third rounds.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic” raked in an estimated $554,000 Friday-Saturday on 58 screens in Argentina, beating “Hannibal” in its second outing ($523,000 on 74) and “Chocolat’s” $220,000 entry on 39.

Lasse Hallstrom’s “Chocolat” whipped up roughly $751,000 in two days on 206 in the U.K., where Sam Raimi’s “The Gift” cruised in with $864,000 on 238 and “Hannibal” devoured about $2 million on 420. “The Emperor’s New Groove” whistled up $756,000 in its third on 419 after clicking with kids during the school vacation.

In Germany, “What Women Want” pulled in an estimated $3.7 million Thursday-Saturday on 659 prints, dwarfing “Hannibal’s” $1.6 million on 554. After flunking its first foreign test in the U.K., Gus Van Sant’s “Finding Forrester” took just $740,000 on 311 in Germany, where “Red Planet” crash-landed with $476,000 on 188.

In Austria, the Sean Connery starrer and the sci-fier barely registered, while Nancy Meyers’ “Women” dominated with $387,000 on 84 and “Hannibal” made $84,000 on 34.

In Spain, the Hannibal Lecter saga fetched roughly $917,000 in two days on 256, ahead of rookies “No Te Fallare” ($407,000 on 158) and “Proof of Life” ($343,000 on 199).

The kidnapping drama notched an estimated $775,000 in four days on 174 in Oz, ranking No. 1, ahead of “Hannibal,” which has dropped like a stone after the censors imposed an R rating in place of the original MA 15 plus tag; it grossed about $490,000 in its third weekend on 193.

After registering the best preem of an otherwise ill-starred foreign excursion, “Almost Famous” drew $473,000 in its sophomore outing on 185 Down Under, where “Chocolat” took a tasty $329,000 in its third on 61 and “Men of Honor” sank in its second with $253,000 on 158.

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