007 pic 'Royale' reigns globally

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After a four-year absence from theaters, a reconfigured James Bond burst onto 3,063 international screens during the weekend in 27 markets, with "Casino Royale" grossing an estimated $42.2 million and emerging with stylish ease as the dominant No. 1 overseas attraction.

With British actor Daniel Craig succeeding Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, "Casino" snared more than 60% of its total weekend tally from just one market, the U.K., where the estimate is $25.6 million from 988 sites over three days plus two previews.

According to distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International, "Casino" is the biggest Bond opening ever in the U.K., besting by 46% the last title in the franchise, 2002's "Die Another Day."

On a three-day-weekend basis, "Casino," with a gross of about $22 million, tied "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" as the second-best launch ever in the U.K., Sony says. The market's best three-day opening was recorded by 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

"Casino" finished No. 1 in each of the markets it played. Sony calculates that its opening takes exceeded by a huge 70% the combined opening tallies in the same territories four years ago of "Die Another Day," which went on to secure $432 million in worldwide boxoffice.

The latest in the 44-year-old Bond franchise finished No. 2 for the weekend domestically with a tally of $40.6 million. Produced for $150 million, "Casino's" worldwide gross stands at $82.8 million.

In addition to the U.K., "Casino's" overseas playdates for the frame included what Sony termed the "Asian piracy territories": India, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Key Western European territories and Japan are still to come.

In India, "Casino" performed sensationally with an estimated gross of $3.2 million from 427 screens, the biggest market opening ever for a non-Indian title, exceeding by a whopping 87% the comparable opening gross of the previous record holder, 2004's "Spider-Man 2." In Russia, the weekend estimate is $3.8 million from 633 screens, the eighth-biggest launch all time for a non-Russian film.

In Greece, the Bond actioner pulled an estimated $1.3 million from 111 screens for a $11,700 per screen average. In Thailand, the tally was $1.1 million from 154 sites ($7,100 per screen), while in Taiwan the estimate is $1 million from 116 situations ($8,600).

Finishing No. 2 for the weekend was 20th Century Fox International's "Borat," which had been in the top spot for the past two weekends. British comic Sacha Baron Cohen's mock documentary unearthed an estimated $13.9 million from 1,900 situations in 25 territories, lifting its overseas gross to $63.6 million and $154.1 million worldwide.

The key new markets are France (an estimated $2.1 million from 269 screens; No. 1 in the Paris metro area), Spain ($1 million from 290 sites, No. 4 in the market) and Norway ($695,000 from 46 situations). The big holdovers include the U.K. (an estimated $4.6 million in its third weekend from 450 screens for a market cume of $35.2 million) and Germany, where "Borat" finished No. 1 in its third weekend with $2.2 million from 412 screens for a market cume of $9.3 million. It also finished No. 1 in Belgium, Finland and Sweden.

In the third spot for the frame is Warner Bros. International's "The Departed," which drew an estimated $6.9 million from 2,337 screens in 37 markets, raising its international total to $69.3 million. The Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama opened in Mexico, Argentina and New Zealand, finishing No. 2 in Mexico (with an estimated $840,000 from 350 sites) and No. 1 in Argentina and New Zealand.

At No. 4 is Fox's "The Devil Wears Prada," which garnered an estimated $6.2 million from 3,000 screens in 39 markets for an international total of $172.3 million. A No. 2 bow in the key Japan market produced an estimated $1.8 million from 302 screens, while the biggest of the holdovers was Korea, where the fourth weekend produced an estimated $726,000 from 168 screens for a market cume of $8.6 million.

Sony's animation title "Open Season" grabbed the No. 5 slot with an estimated weekend gross of $6 million from 3,855 prints working in 51 markets; its international total is $70.8 million. The best of the holdovers was Spain in the second weekend, where "Season" placed No. 2 in the market with an estimated $1.4 million from 390 situations.

Two low-key overseas openings included Warners' "Happy Feet," the animation outing about singing penguins, which bowed in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Malaysia for an estimated $867,000 from 219 screens. Buena Vista International's "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" bowed in Australia and New Zealand for an estimated $925,000 from 330 screens.

Lionsgate's horror sequel "Saw III" continued strongly in 20 territories and yielded an estimated $5.5 million for the weekend from about 1,600 screens. In Japan, it opened via local distributor Asmik Ace at 86 sites for an estimated $1.1 million, a figures that tops the comparable tally of "Saw II" by 128%. "Saw III's" international cume is $33.4 million.

Warners' "The Prestige" drew an estimated $4.2 million from 1,524 screens in 22 markets, hiking its overseas cume to $18 million. Fox's "A Good Year," starring Russell Crowe, tasted an estimated $3.8 million from 1,600 screens in 23 markets, raising its international cume to $13.5 million.

Remaining No. 1 in Japan is Warners' Japanese-language "Desu noto 2" (Death Note: The Last Name), which scared up an estimated $3.4 million from 294 screens for a single-market cume of $26.1 million. Likely to finish No. 1 in Germany and Austria for the fourth consecutive weekend is Universal International's "Seven Dwarfs 2," another local-language feature, which drew an estimated $2.6 million for the weekend at 830 dates in Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland and Luxembourg. Its overseas cume is $26.6 million.

In Spain, Warners' co-production of "Los Fantasmas De Goya" (Goya's Ghost) nabbed an estimated $512,000 in its second weekend at 362 screens.

Other overseas cume updates: WBI's "Flags of Our Fathers," $16.5 million; BVI's "The Guardian," $24.1 million; Universal's "Children of Men," $22 million; Paramount/UIP's "World Trade Center," $88.4 million; Universal's "Miami Vice," $99 million; UIP's "Barnyard," $26.3 million; Universal's "You, Me and Dupree," $52.3 million; UIP's "Jackass Number 2," $6.6 million; Summit Entertainment/Universal's "Step Up," $15.4 million (Universal territories only); UIP's "Flushed Away," $7.8 million, and "Babel," $3.9 million (thanks in part to its No. 1 weekend in Mexico with an estimated $1.1 million from 289 screens).
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