Focus Features' Lost In Translation scored a trio of sensational European openings atthe weekend that far exceeded expectations and sets it up for large expansionsthis upcoming weekend.

Sofia Coppola's acclaimed account of a brief-ishencounter in Tokyo opened through Momentum Pictures in the UK and Ireland on 96prints and grossed $1.47m, reportedly the biggest ever UK bow for a film on 150prints or less.

It averaged $15,213 per screen in the UK and ranked fifth.It was the number one title in London's West End, where it saw off thetwin challenge of Return Of The King andThe Last Samurai with a $505,210haul from 19 screens.

In Ireland it finished fourth on $126,168 from 11 screensfor a $11,470 average. The film was scheduled to expand to 140 prints in the UKand Ireland but is now likely to rise to between 180 and 200 due to exhibitordemand.

It opened fourth in France through Pathe, grossing $1.28mfrom 130 prints for a $10,000 per-screen average. Again, a larger-than-expectedexpansion will follow this week.

Lost In Translation'sFrench bow exceeded those of Being John Malkovich, Boogie Nights, The Pianist and SenseAnd Sensibility.

Germany produced $765,415 from 88 prints for anunconfirmed fifth place and a per-screen average of just under $9,000.

Distributor Constantin will likely expand by around 25screens, rather than just a several as originally thought, and the filmoutperformed openings by About Schmidt, BoogieNights and O Brother Where ArtThou'

It has taken $1.5m after nearly three weeks in Australia,where it is playing on 34 screens and Focus is distributing through UIP. Therunning total there exceeds comparable grosses for About Schmidt, Being John Malkovich and Boogie Nights.

"It has been a long and exciting weekend,"Glen Basner, Focus' head of international sales and distribution, toldScreendaily. "It's evolved into something different from what ourdistributors thought it would be when they bought the movie. It's veryrare that you see something conceived as a specialty movie become a power inthe marketplace.

"This is a moviethat critics and audiences really like so the word of mouth has been great.Distributors believe in it and are willing to release it in a bigger way thanthey originally expected and the publicity support from Sofia, ScarlettJohansson and Bill Murray has been tremendous and I'm a big believer thatthat really makes a difference."