A sensational launch in Italypowered DreamWorks International's Madagascar towards $300m over the weekend as the picture added an estimated$12.5m from 47 territories through UIP for $291.5m.

The animated hit opened top in Italy on $7.1m including $1.4m frompreviews for 64% market share. This is the biggest CGI animated opening ever inItaly, approximately five times bigger than Shrek, 46% bigger than Shark Tale, 37% bigger than Shrek 2, and 17% bigger than The Incredibles.

Madagascarwas the runaway champion in Scandinavia, opening top in Norway on an excellent$1.5m in 112 cinemas, top in Sweden on a strong $645,000 from 114, top inDenmark on a mighty $600,000 from 82, and top in Finland on an excellent$340,000 from 52.

Universal's comedy The40-Year-Old Virgin opened top in the UKthrough UIP on $3.1m including previews from 363 sites.

The Steve Carell-starrer snagged 18% market share in its firstinternational release, and the opening was approximately at the same level asthat of last weekend's champion The Dukes Of Hazzard, and slightly below the debuts by WeddingCrashers ($3.5m) and AmericanPie ($3.3m in late1999).

The picture will roll out around the world in September, Octoberand November and the next major release is Germany on Sept 29.

Universal's Skeleton Key added a further $3.8m from 1,650 sites in 29 territories toraise UIP's international running total to $27.5m.

The Southern Gothic mystery opened number one in Mexico on $1.3mfrom 272 for 30% market share. It ranks third on $4.2m after three weekends inGermany, and fourth on $2m after three in Australia. There are 23 territoriesstill to open including Italy next weekend.

Paramount's War Of The Worlds grossed $2m to raise the cumulativeinternational total through UIP to $349m.

DreamWorks International's thriller Red Eye opened in the UK on $1.6m from 340venues and launched in Australia on $850,000 from 170. UIP's earlyinternational running total stands at just over $3.5m.

Land Of The Dead raised its cumulative total by $1.6m from 775 in 28territories to $11.2m through UIP and $13.2m including France, where Wild Bunchholds rights.

The highlight here was a $530,000 fourth place debut in Germany in195 venues. There are 19 territories still to open including Spain on Sept 9and the UK on Sept 23.

Warner Bros Pictures International's (WBPI) Charlie And TheChocolate Factoryproduced an excellent $5.1m number one debut in Australia with 680,000admissions from 463 prints and 65% market share.

The Roald Dahl adaptation also opened top in Thailand on a strong$363,600 and 126,000 admissions from 60 prints and 37% market share of thecombined top five box office.

Charlieadded $1.1m for $61.1m in its sixth weekend in the UK, and grossed $531,200 for$7.1m after four weekends in Spain.

The Islandheld on to its number one berth in its third weekend in France as a $1.5m haulraised the running total to $9.1m. Mexico stands at $5.9m after four, and Italyhas produced $2.9m after two. The sci-fi adventure was expected to rank numbertwo in both territories.

The Dukes Of Hazzard opened in Italy on $308,800 from 106 prints for an unconfirmedranking. The television adaptation added just under $1m in its second weekendin the UK for a $5.9m running total.

WBPI executives will release updated weekend and cumulative totalsthis week.

Fired up by five number one launches including two major Europeanmarkets, Sony Pictures Releasing International's (SPRI) Bewitched grossed $7m on 2,700 screens in 42markets for $32.5m.

The comedy opened top in Spain on $1.44m from 303, and top inGermany on $1.39 from 618. It also opened number one in Austria on $255,000from 82, New Zealand on $195,000 on 57, and Switzerland on $145,000 on 20.

Bewitchedranks fourth in Japan on $3.8m after two weekends, seventh in the UK on $6.8mafter three, and sixth in Mexico on $3.7m after four.

Fox International launched Timur Bekmambekov's Russia fantasysmash Night Watch inSpain over the weekend in third place on an excellent $940,000 on 250 screens.

The picture will roll out around the world over the next twomonths. Full Fox International weekend results will become available this week.

Executives fromBuena Vista International had not returned calls at time of writing.