'300' battles way to $48.3 million

Key market bows in 20 countries lifts cume to $79.6 million

At a time when the overseas market usually slows down before the deluge of tentpoles in May, Warner Bros. Pictures' violent ancient Greek epic "300" overwhelmed the international market, opening in 20 new countries and ranking No. 1 in almost all of them, for a weekend take of $48.3 million from 4,475 prints in 33 territories.

At the same time, a batch of fairly recent entries -- "Norbit," "Music and Lyrics," "Ghost Rider" and "Night at the Museum" -- continued to display holdover strength in the face of efforts by major studios and local distributors to wedge in new smaller and/or specialized films, domestic also-rans and homegrown titles before the summer onslaught.

The Zack Snyder-directed "300," which reached an international gross of $79.6 million, had the advantage of opening in six key offshore markets. The U.K. pulled in a hot $9.2 million from 369 sites, including previews. Spain opened to what Warners terms a "spectacular" $6.7 million from 536 prints, hailed as the second-highest-grossing 18-rated film ever in the market. France grossed an "excellent" $5.6 million from 485 screens nationwide, taking a 40% market share in the country. Russia generated an "outstanding" $5 million from 417 prints, the second-biggest all-time opening for a Warner Bros. film in the country. Italy also provided an "excellent' $4.7 million from 486 prints, and Mexico delivered a tiptop $2.6 million from 526 with a 55% share of the top five films in the market.

In addition, Korea remained No. 1 for a second weekend, taking in $3.4 million from 231 screens for a market cume of $12 million, and historically associated Greece cheered to a third week of $1.3 million for a market score of $9.4 million to become Warners' biggest film ever in the market.

The Ben Stiller-starring family comedy "Night at the Museum" reached an eye-catching $301.8 million after a $3.8 million weekend from 1,624 screens in 10 markets. The 20th Century Fox release held the No. 1 spot in Japan for a second weekend with $3 million from 565 screens for a market gross of $12.6 million.

Paramount Pictures International's Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit" hit a foreign cume of $42.9 million following a $7.9 million weekend from 2,457 screens, which included openings in six new markets headed by Italy, where it arrived No. 3 with $1.8 million from 266 screens.

The Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics" lifted its cume to $68 million after a $7 million weekend from 2,770 prints in 52 markets, with the U.K. delivering $17.7 million in seven weekends; Australia, $7.2 million in six; Korea, $6.2 million in five; and Italy, $5 million in five. The third weekend in Germany generated $1.5 million for a market cume to date of $8.12 million; while the second weekend in France brought in $1 million for a market take to date of $4.2 million.

Meanwhile, "Ghost Rider," which has spooked foreign shores for six weeks, handed over another $5.4 million from 3,300 screens in 60 territories to raise its international cume to $94.3 million.

Newcomer "Mr. Bean's Holiday," the latest Rowan Atkinson comedy from Universal's Working Title Films and France's Studio Canal, opened No. 2 in the U.K. just from previews with $3.6 million from 478 screens. It also took in another $1.8 million from 92 screens in bows in Malaysia and Singapore for a weekend total of $5.4 million. The sequel launches officially this coming weekend in the U.K. and Australia as part of a 21-market opening.

Warner Bros. Pictures' day-and-date opening of "TMNT," the animated resurrection of "Teeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," arrived No. 2 to "300" in the U.K. with $1.9 million from 368 screens and No. 3 in Australia (behind "Wild Hogs" and "Hot Fuzz") with    $383,677 from 58 via Roadshow.

Buena Vista International's buddy comedy "Wild Hogs," which scored $2.9 million over the weekend from 595 screens in seven markets, advanced to $11.2 million as it remained No. 1 in Australia for a third weekend with $1.7 million for a market cume of $7.9 million. The overall foreign cume has reached $11.2 million.

Local-language films hogged the boxoffice charts in several markets. In France, "Ensemble C'est Tout," released in the market by Warners, hit the top with $5.8 million from 485 screens. Only "Music and Lyrics," known as "Le Come-Back" in France, made the country's top 10 pictures (at No. 3), with the rest dominated by French and other foreign-language titles, including China's "Curse of the Golden Flower," Germany's "The Lives of Others" and Italy's "The Golden Door."

Warner Bros. Italy's release of Cattleya's "Ho voglia di te" grossed $1.8 million from 580 prints in its third weekend in native Italy for a market cume of $18 million, while Sony's release of Columbia Pictures Productions Mexico's "Ninas Mal" (Charm School) held the No. 3 spot in Mexico with a three-week take of $5.3 million.

Updated cumes: "The Pursuit of Happyness," $137.9 million; "Deja Vu," $111.3 million; "Epic Movie," $28.3 million; "Borat," $131.3 million; "The Devil Wears Prada," $200.2 million; "Rocky Balboa," $73.8 million; "The Number 23," $15.1 million; "Little Children," $7.6 million; "Hot Fuzz," $42.4 million; "The Holiday," $130.9 million; Dreamgirls," $49.3 million; and "Charlotte's Web," $59.4 million.
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