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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 15:44 GMT
Hannibal chews up competition
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore in Hannibal
Sir Anthony Hopkins gives Julianne Moore a lift in Hannibal
Serial killer movie Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, has set a new UK box office record after its opening weekend.

The film, in which Sir Anthony Hopkins reprises his 1991 role as Hannibal Lecter, took 6.4 million in its first three days. It took 780,535 alone from special St Valentine's Day previews.

It was the biggest opening weekend ever recorded in the UK for an 18 certificate film - and it doubles the previous record, held by Guy Ritchie's gangland caper Snatch.

In Hannibal, FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore), who won Lecter's trust in the last film, is used as bait to lure him out of retirement in Italy.

US success

Ridley Scott's film has also held on to the number one spot at the US box office for the second consecutive week.

The movie took $30m (20.6m) over the weekend - making it the first film of the year to hit the $100m target.

It is the third highest film opening ever behind Jurassic Park: The Lost World and The Phantom Menace.

Top five US films
1. Hannibal
2. Down to Earth
3. Recess: School's Out
4.Sweet November
5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Hannibal's stronghold kept new comedy Down to Earth, starring Chris Rock, in second place with $17.5m (12m).

High school animation Recess: School's Out followed, debuting at number three with $10.8m (7.4m).

Global hit

Hannibal's success in the UK and US is reflected elsewhere around the world.

In Italy also, the movie remained in the number one position this weekend in its second week.

Keanu Reeves stars in the tear-jerking Sweet November
Keanu Reeves stars in Sweet November

Early indications suggest it will go on to the top of the movie charts in Britain, Australia and Germany its first weekend when figures are released on Tuesday.

Back in the US, the week's other new release Sweet November came in at number four with $10.6m (7.3m).

The romantic drama stars Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron in a remake of the 1968 movie starring Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley.

Box office boost

Following the announcement of the Oscar nominations last week, some best picture contenders enjoyed a fruitful weekend.

Director Ang Lee's Chinese-language Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon opened in a further 447 cinemas - bringing its reach to 1,651.

As a result, its takings rose by 62% to $8.8m (6m) and giving it the number five position.

Juliette Binoche in Chocolat
Juliette Binoche enjoys an Oscar nomination boost

Chocolat, starring Juliette Binoche, was released in a further 333 cinemas, bringing it to 1,481. It took in $4.8m (3.3m) - an increase of 56% - and held the number nine spot.

Traffic, another best picture nominee, also boosted its weekend takings, putting it sixth in the charts.

The drug-war thriller starring Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones and Benicio del Toro saw its ticket sales rise by 47% to $6.5m (4.4m).

Meanwhile, Tom Hanks's Cast Away finally fell out of the top five to number eight with takings of $5m (3.4m).

See also:

05 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Hannibal the cannibal returns
19 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Berlin debut for Hannibal
09 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Third Hannibal film planned
08 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Hannibal makes a killing
08 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Hannibal sparks censorship row
12 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Hannibal devours US box office
16 Feb 01 | Entertainment
The real Hannibal Lecters
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