British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial Kazakhstan TV journalist BORAT has stunned the US box office by scoring a $26.4 million (GBP14.7 million) weekend take to debut at number one. The hilarious film, BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, was expected to chart high behind Tim Allen's SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE, but it actually fared over $6 million (GBP3.3 million) better. Borat's opening weekend take is more than double the most optimistic forecasts for the film. Movie executives at Twentieth Century Fox scrapped plans to release the R-rated film in 2,000 cinemas after test screenings suggested moviegoers weren't massive fans of the Jew-hating character Borat. Instead the film was released to just 800 screens, resulting in a weekend of sell-outs. Borat also earned more than $17 million (GBP9.4 million) elsewhere after opening simultaneously in 17 countries. Animated movie FLUSHED AWAY debuted at number three with $19.1 million (GBP5 million), while last week's chart-topper SAW III dropped to number four.