Int'l crowds elevate 'Saawariya'

It's tops o'seas with $15.4 mil, dwarfing 'Lions' bow

The boxoffice power of Bollywood showed itself this weekend as "Saawariya" emerged the surprise No. 1 hit internationally, outgrossing "Lions for Lambs" with Tom Cruise by an estimated $5.1 million.

"Saawariya," a nearly three-hour musical in Hindi with English subtitles based on Dostoyevsky's "White Nights," brought in an estimated $15.4 million from 900 screens in 13 markets. Almost all of the gross came from India, where the film opened No. 2 with an estimated $14.4 million from 754 screens.

"Lions," director Robert Redford's reading of contemporary events in Washington and the Middle East, opened at 2,681 screens in 45 markets for an estimated $10.3 million, less than $4,000 per screen. The film, co-starring Cruise, Meryl Streep and Redford, also opened this weekend as the No. 4 film domestically.

Negative reviews in the U.K. and other parts of Europe inhibited the "Lions" tally. Early estimates show that the film failed to commandingly finish first in any of its opening territories, and it finished outside the top five in the U.K., ranking sixth with an estimated $1.4 million from 404 screens. 20th Century Fox International, which is releasing the film overseas, expressed "disappointment in some markets."

The best territory for "Lions" was Spain, where it tallied an estimated $2.2 million from 300 screens. Fox reported that the title performed well overall in Asia-Pacific territories. Australia produced an estimated $878,000 from 248 situations, and Hong Kong registered $217,000 from 23 sites for a per-screen average of nearly $9,500. The early worldwide tally stands at $17 million.

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, "Saawariya" is a Sony Pictures co-production and another of the studio's local-language initiatives. The film's U.K. debut produced $340,000 from 60 sites, while in Australia, the opening weekend produced $100,000 from 17 screens.

Third place over the weekend went to "The Heartbreak Kid," the Farrelly brothers' raunchy romantic comedy with Ben Stiller, which grossed an estimated $8.6 million from 1,782 screens in 25 markets. The frame raised the overseas cume for DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International release to $41 million.

No. 4 was the Disney/Pixar animation hit "Ratatouille," which had been the top overseas grosser for the preceding five weekends straight. Now winding down its international run, "Ratatouille" served up an estimated $8.1 million from 4,272 screens in 31 territories, all holdovers.

"Ratatouille's" overseas gross stands at $386.5 million. It's now the fifth-most-popular international release this year, passing DreamWorks/Paramount's "Transformers" ($384 million), and ranks No. 29 on the all-time international list. It global cume, $592.1 million, qualifies it as the 38th-most-popular film ever released.

Finishing fifth was Sony/Summit Entertainment's "Resident Evil: Extinction," which grossed an estimated $5.7 million, raising its overseas cume to $81.5 million. Sony says the title is the highest-grossing overseas performer in the horror film's franchise. The original "Resident Evil" clocked $70.6 million while "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" grossed $78.2 million internationally.

Paramount's "Stardust" grossed an estimated $5.4 million from 2,231 screens in 59 markets for an international cume of $83 million. Universal International's "The Bourne Ultimatum" chugged along to an estimated $4.5 million from 1,234 spots in 30 territories, hiking its international total to $195.5 million. It is expected to pass $200 million overseas gross mark by next weekend.

Two films of disparate genres, Universal's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and Lionsgate's "Saw IV," each grossed an estimated $3.9 on the weekend. "Elizabeth," a costume drama, played 992 screens in seven territories for a cume of $14.1 million. "Saw IV," the latest in the grisly horror series, played in 23 markets and lifted its international total to $31 million.

DreamWorks Animation/PPI's "Bee Movie," which finished first domestically on the weekend, raised its total overseas take to $8.4 million with an estimated $3 million from 579 screens in four markets. The global cume for the Jerry Seinfeld outing is $80.6 million.

Sony Animation's "Surf's Up" registered an estimated $2.9 million from 1,870 screens in 30 markets, raising its overseas cume to $77 million. Disney's "The Game Plan" with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson grabbed an estimated $2.7 million from 850 screens in nine territories, taking its cume to $12 million.

In the U.K., Sony's "30 Days of Night" finished fifth with $1.8 million from 385 screens for a market cume of $6.2 million. Disney opened "The Three Investigators and the Secret of Skeleton Island" in 400 screens in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for an estimated $1.6 million.

Lionsgate's "Good Luck Chuck" bowed at No. 3 in the U.K. with an estimated $1.1 million from 435 sites; Universal's "American Gangster" grossed $300,000 at 23 dates in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania over 10 days; and Universal's Brazilian co-production "Tropa De Elite" drew $420,000 in its fourth Brazil weekend for a 38-day market cume of $9.9 million.

Other overseas cumes from Universal: "The Kingdom," $29 million; "Atonement," $27.1 million; "Knocked Up," $70 million; and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," $63.2 million.
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