'Happyness' is being No. 1 o'seas

Drama unseats 'Museum' for top spot with $16 mil

On the heels of a best actor Oscar nomination for Will Smith, Sony Pictures Releasing International's "The Pursuit of Happyness" took over the top spot internationally for the weekend, garnering an estimated $16 million from 3,100 screens in 25 markets.

Opening strongly in five territories, the Gabriele Muccino-directed drama debuted best in Spain (an estimated $2.4 million from 286 screens) and in France ($2.2 million from 322 sites). Its total international gross is $71 million.

Finishing No. 2 after five consecutive No. 1 weekends is 20th Century Fox International's "Night at the Museum," which notched an estimated $13.5 million from 4,500 screens in 50 markets. A dispute with exhibitors in the U.K. over DVD release windows certainly hurt as "Museum" was yanked from several Odeon and Vue cinemas.

The biggest of the "Museum" openings was Italy, where the Ben Stiller comedy snared an estimated $4.7 million from 538 screens. The film's total international gross is $212 million (Fox is shooting for a final overseas total of more than $300 million), with a worldwide cume of $437.4 million.

Finishing in third is Warner Bros. International's "Blood Diamond," which mined an estimated $13.2 million from about 3,200 screens in 51 markets. The action drama, starring best actor Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, continued strongest in the U.K. (an estimated $2.4 million from 371 sites for a market cume of $7.1 million) and bowed at No. 1 in France with $2.5 million from 459 screens. Its overseas cume is $45.5 million.

Finishing at No. 4 is SPRI's "Casino Royale," which had a strong weekend thanks to a historically noteworthy opening in China. The first Agent 007 film to play the market in the 45-year history of the 21-title James Bond series, "Casino" yielded an estimated $4 million for the weekend ($6.9 million since its opening Jan. 30) from 468 screens. Sony predicts that the film will set a new overall record for a non-Chinese film in the territory.

"Casino's" full weekend tally was an estimated $6 million from 1,780 screens in 44 territories, lifting its international gross total to $416.8 million ($582.8 million worldwide). That makes it the 22nd-biggest-grossing film ever overseas. Sony expects "Casino" this week to claim the 21st spot all time.

One of this weekend's most distinctive features is the boxoffice strength of local-language films. Homegrown titles finished No. 1 in several key markets, including Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Austria and South Korea.

One specific example is the latest in Buena Vista International's homegrown German-language family-comedy franchise, SamFilm Produktion's "Die Wilden Kerle 4" (Wild Bunch 4), which finished No. 5 for the weekend. It grossed an estimated $5.5 million from 700 screens in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland, finishing No. 1 in each of the markets.

BVI has realized about $30 million in boxoffice from the three previous "Wild Bunch" titles — described as the Bad News Bears playing soccer — acquired and distributed over a four-year period.

Fox's "Rocky Balboa" fought its way to an estimated $5.4 million from 2,300 screens in 21 markets, raising its overseas cume to $47.1 million. Most notably, it bowed No. 1 in Belgium with a lofty $10,100 per-screen average at 50 situations.

Paramount Pictures International's "Dreamgirls" grossed an estimated $4.7 million from 1,188 screens in 11 territories, raising its overseas boxoffice total to $9.1 million. Laden with eight Oscar nominations, the musical bowed in Austria, Germany, Iceland, South Africa and the U.K., the biggest of which was the U.K. (an estimated $2.5 million from 271 sites, good for No. 2 in the market).

Lionsgate's "Saw III" had a No. 2 bow in Germany, scaring up an estimated $3 million from 439 sites, 24% ahead of what the previous title in the grisly horror series scored in the market. Its overall weekend gross was $3.6 million from 39 territories, lifting its international total so far to $70 million.

Other Oscar-related titles included: Summit Entertainment/PPI-Vantage's "Babel," an estimated $3.6 million from 1,126 screens, for a cume of $58.9 million; Fox's "Notes on a Scandal," $2.3 million in its U.K. opening at 300 screens; WBI's "The Departed," $1.8 million from 1,200 screens in 31 markets, for a cume of $142.4 million; Fox's "The Last King of Scotland," $1.5 million from 378 screens in 14 markets, for a cume of $8.3 million; and Fox's release of "Apocalypto," $3 million from 787 screens in nine territories, for a Fox cume of $7.9 million.

BVI's "Deja Vu" crossed the $100 million mark internationally (cume stands at $100.8 million), with an estimated $2.4 million this weekend from 2,097 screens in 36 markets. That makes the action title — produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Denzel Washington — the 11th Bruckheimer-produced title released by BVI to exceed $100 million overseas, and Washington's first film to pass that mark internationally.

Universal International's crime-action vehicle "Smokin' Aces," which ranked No. 5 domestically for the weekend, drew an estimated $1.8 million from 745 screens in six territories, four of them (Spain, Netherlands, Sweden and Latvia) new. The international gross total is $9.3 million, with $34.3 million worldwide.

Fox's satirical title "Epic Movie," which placed third domestically for the weekend, yielded an estimated $1.4 million overseas from 250 sites in seven markets for a cume of $5.2 million, of which $3.9 million has come from Australia. Its worldwide gross is $34.6 million.

Other cume updates: SPRI's "Click" (thanks to a $1.08 million opening weekend at 52 screens in South Korea), $97.2 million; WBI's "Happy Feet," $165.2 million; United International Pictures' "The Holiday," $116.2 million; PPI's "Flushed Away," $108.6 million; Lionsgate's "Employee of the Month," $6.7 million; Fox's "Borat," $119.8 million; UIP's "Children of Men," $33 million; PPI's "Charlotte's Web," $25.7 million; and Fox's "Eragon," $166.7 million.
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