UIP's Hannibal opened to phenomenal receipts over the weekend to become the UK's biggest 18-certificate opener of all time. The previous record, held by Columbia TriStar's Snatch (£3,180,002), was obliterated by Hannibal's three-day gross of £6,402,540 ($9,292,511), more than double that of the Guy Ritchie-directed feature.

Released on over 600 prints at 421 sites, the film achieved an unprecedented site average of £15,208 ($22,072) with cinemas around the country selling out multiple screenings several hours in advance of the start time. The record takings include Valentines day previews (two days before the official release of the film) of £780,535 ($1,132,852) from 358 sites.Hannibal also became the fifth biggest opener of all time in the UK (See chart below). The thriller became UIP's most successful opening ever in the UK, beating The World Is Not Enough, which took £6,273,584 ($9,105,347) in November 1999.Prequel to Hannibal, The Silence Of The Lambs, distributed by Rank took a three-day gross of £2,322,879 ($3,361,619) when it opened wide at 281 sites in June 1991 after a one-week, one-screen platform release in London.

Hannibal already looks certain to overtake the £17m ($24.8m) total UK gross set by its Oscar winning predecessor and is likely to reign at the top of the UK box office for several weeks.

Top Ten 18 Certificate Openings in UK

Film (UK distributor) Opening gross £ Total gross £

Hannibal (UIP) £6.4m -
Snatch (Col TriStar) £3.18m £12.3m
Scary Movie (BVI) £2.89m £10.2m
American Beauty (UIP) £2.84m £21.3m *
Alien: Resurrection (20th Fox) £2.67m £7.4m
Bram Stoker's Dracula (Col TriStar) £2.64m £11.5m
Seven (Entertainment) £2.63m £19.5m
Scream 2 (BVI) £2.49m £8.3m
Scream 3 (BVI) £2.45m £5.9m
Interview With The Vampire (Warner Bros) £2.35m £10.5m

* Second weekend gross following a one-week platform opening.

Top Five UK Openings
Film (UK distributor) Certificate Opening gross £ ($)

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (20th Fox) U £9.5m ($13.8m)
Toy Story 2 (BVI) (U) £7.8m ($11.2m) *
Men In Black (Col TriStar) (PG) £7.1m ($10.3m)
Independence Day (20th Fox) (12) £7m ($10.2m)
Hannibal (UIP) (18) £6.4m ($9.3m)

* Second weekend gross following a one-week platform opening.