Underlining the worldwide appeal of CG toons, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” torched the competition at the foreign box office with a sizzling $43.4 million weekend launch at 4,553 playdates in 27 markets.

Fox’s sequel delivered a major boost to what had been laggardly offshore biz with the year’s biggest weekend total for a single pic, easily eclipsing the $30 million earned by “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” during the first frame of 2006.

By contrast, “Basic Instinct 2” showed only modest heat, opening overseas with a rough estimate in the $10 million range at about 2,900 engagements in 32 markets including an Italian launch of $1.4 million and an unimpressive sixth-place finish in the U.K. with $817,000 at 290. Figures weren’t widely available Sunday as C2 Pictures has sold off foreign rights to a wide array of distribs.

The 1992 original “Basic Instinct” grossed a beefy $235 million overseas, doubling its domestic take.

The performance by “Ice Age: The Meltdown” was particularly impressive in that it didn’t include several major European markets, including Germany, France, Italy and the U.K., where previews took in a solid $4.1 million at 479 sites — a figure not included until Blighty opens next weekend. Fox Int’l co-president Paul Hanneman said he was “ecstatic” and noted “Meltdown” has 30 markets yet to open.

Best perfs for “Meltdown” came in Mexico, with an industry record $8.3 million at 1,083 sites; in Russia, with $7.6 million at 460; and in Spain, with $6.2 million at 450 for the second biggest animated launch ever.

Other Latin American audiences embraced “Meltdown,” with a Fox record in Brazil with $3.9 million at 507 engagements and all-time opening weekend records in Argentina with $1.2 million at 134 playdates, in Venezuela with $531,000 at 80 and in Ecuador with $278,000 at 30. Toon also set marks for second biggest opening of all time in Colombia, with $822,000 at 120, and Peru, with $653,000 at 59.

Poland’s “Meltdown” opening of $1.6 million at 107 was the largest for a Fox film, while Belgium and Holland each grossed $1.3 million to set marks for top animated opening. Other “Meltdown” markets hitting seven figures included Sweden with $1.3 million at 159, Taiwan with $1.2 million at 178, Chile with $1.2 million at 70 and Puerto Rico with $1.1 million at 84 — the third largest of all time.

With spring vacations starting in many countries, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” should be able to pull in significant numbers for several more weeks. The original opened four years ago with $21.7 million from 3,300 prints in 25 foreign markets and eventually took in more than $200 million internationally; DreamWorks’ “Madagascar” grossed more than $330 million in foreign markets last year.

UIP’s “Inside Man” remained solid with $8.8 million at 1,772 playdates in 27 territories for an 11-day foreign cume of $22.5 million. Denzel Washington starrer racked up its best figures in markets where “Meltdown” hadn’t opened, finishing No. 1 in the U.K. with $1.9 million at 354, down 26%; in Australia with a launch of $1.8 million at 194 for a 24% share; and in Germany with $1.5 million at 297, also off 26%.

Warner’s “V for Vendetta” remained a lukewarm performer with $5.1 million in 32 markets, pushing the futuristic actioner’s foreign cume to $25 million. “Vendetta” opened in second in Oz with $1.17 million at 202 and slid 50% in the U.K. with $494,200 at 217 for a mild $5.3 million cume in Blighty after three weeks.

UIP’s romantic comedy “Failure to Launch” showed some charm with $4.35 million at 1,410 sites in 15 markets. It came close to leading in the U.K. with a moderate $1.9 million at 353 playdates, while its Italian opening showed little traction with $665,000 at 194.

Notable holdover biz came from Fox’s “The Pink Panther,” which had led the last three frames internationally, with $4 million to push foreign cume to $66.6 million; BVI’s “Narnia,” with $3.5 million in Japan and China; and “Brokeback Mountain,” with $3 million. “Narnia” has cumed $436 million foreign, while “Brokeback Mountain” has lifted its international total to $87.5 million — nearly $5 million ahead of its domestic take.

Warner’s “Firewall” failed to ignite much interest with $3.06 million in 14 markets, opening quietly in the U.K. with $794,500 at 281, in Japan with $710,000 at 172 and in Germany with 450,500 at 303. Foreign cume has hit $18.5 million to go along with $48 million domestic.

Sony’s “Hostel” scared up $2.14 million with $1.3 million from its second U.K. frame, down 39%. Distrib’s “Fun With Dick and Jane” opened its final foreign market in South Korea with $1.4 million at 160, finishing second to local entry “Almost Love” and lifting the “Fun” foreign cume to $89 million.

Other pics in seven figures included BVI’s “Shaggy Dog” with $2.4 million and its “Eight Below” with $2 million; Fox’s “Date Movie” with $1.2 million at 1,470 sites for a $23.4 million foreign cume and its “The Hills Have Eyes” with $1 million for a $9.2 million total; and UIP’s “Nanny McPhee” with $1 million at 1,000 playdates for a $63.3 million foreign total.