'Madagascar 2' an animal overseas

Outpacing original's entire run by $700,000

For the fourth time in five stanzas "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" won the No. 1 overseas boxoffice spot over the first weekend of 2009 thanks to an estimated $31.1 million grossed from 6,239 screens in 35 territories.

Overseas gross total for the DreamWorks Animation/Paramount title stands at $338.7 million, which puts its foreign cume some $700,000 ahead of that tallied over its entire run by the original in the series, 2005's "Madagascar."

A close No. 2 on the weekend was 20th Century Fox International's "Australia," which drew an estimated $21.3 million from 5,241 screens in 51 territories for an international cume of $83.5 million.

Third was "Bedtimes Stories," the family feature with Adam Sandler, which registered $21 million from 3,372 sites in 22 markets for an overseas cume of $43 million.

Taking fourth was Warner's "Yes Man," the latest Jim Carrey comedy, which grabbed $12 million from 1,840 screens in 21 markets for an overseas total of $33.3 million. Notable was its No. 1 bow in Australia ($3 million from 257 screens).

Disney Animation's "Bolt" finished No. 5 with $11.3 million from 2,400 spots in 24 territories for an overseas cume to date of $64.2 million. The animation title about a dog actor (voiced by John Travolta) opened No. 3 in Australia ($1.7 million from 230 sites). In Korea, the take was $2.4 million from 125 screens, which including previews makes the "Bolt" bow the biggest market opening ever for any Disney animation title.

Fox's sci-fi remake "The Day the Earth Stood Still" played 5,084 situations in 63 territories and tallied $10.9 million for an international cume to date of $128.6 million. Summit Ent.'s teen favorite, "Twilight," garnered $8.7 million from 2,314 sites in 42 markets, and edged closer to the $100-million overseas total gross mark ($99.6 million).

"Madagascar 2," which began its slow international rollout in late October, opened No. 1 in Poland, scoring $3.8 million from 82 spots for a per-screen average of $46,341, which Paramount describes as "the all-time second-highest opening (in the market) for any film." A China bow is expected to come in with an estimated $2.3 million from 600 screens.

"Madagascar 2" finished No. 1 in its fifth weekend in France, with $5.1 million due from 834 spots for a market cume of $39.5 million. In Italy, the weekend tally was $3.6 million from 415 locations for a cume of $29.5 million, while the Germany tally was $3.5 million from 826 spots for a cume of $40 million.

In its second weekend on the international circuit, "Australia" finished No. 1 in Germany, Spain, Sweden and Denmark while the Baz Luhrmann-directed epic with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman finished No. 2 in France, Austria and New Zealand.

"Bedtime Stories' " openings in six territories were paced by $3.7 million in Mexico from 600 spots, while Russia provided another $3.6 million from 350 screens. A No. 1 bow in Taiwan produced $1.2 million from just 20 sites for an eye-popping average of $60,000 per screen. In Thailand, Malaysia and Russia the opening numbers for "Stories" exceeded, said Disney, the total grosses generated over respective market runs of previous Sandler vehicles last year's "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and 2006's "Click."

Warner's release of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with Brad Pitt drew an estimated $2 million from 256 Australia and New Zealand screens for a foreign cume of $5.7 million. Fox opened United Artists' "Valkyrie" with Tom Cruise in Puerto Rico where it ranked No. 3 in the market with $185,000 from 36 screens.

Fox also drew $2.9 million from 434 screens in six markets for "Marley & Me" for an early overseas cume of $5.2 million. Universal's "Frost/Nixon" played 71 screens in Australia and New Zealand for an estimated $279,000, pushing its overseas cume to $734,000. Sony drew an estimated $2.6 million from 1,025 screens in six markets for "The Spirit" for a cume of $6.6 million so far.

Universal's animated fantasy "The Tale of Despereaux" drew $3.1 million from 1,760 screens in 16 territories for a cume of $12.5 million. "WALL-E," the Pixar/Disney animation title that was Disney's top title in 2008, grabbed the No. 1 spot in Japan for the fourth of five weekends in the market, grossing $3.7 million from 330 spots for a lusty $11,212 per screen. Overseas cume now stands at $298 million, with "WALL-E" on track this week to become the 10th Disney title ever to cross the $300-million international gross mark.

Universal's "Changeling" with Angelina Jolie collected an estimated $2.6 million from 798 screens in 11 territories for a foreign cume of $35.3 million. The Clint Eastwood-directed period drama will open in 47 markets over the next three months with Germany and Korea bows due Jan. 22.

Other international cumes: MGM/Sony's "Quantum of Silence," $382 million; Fox's "Mirrors," 41.6 million; Universal's "The Strangers," $14.3 million; New Line's "Four Christmases," $37.1 million; Sony's "Seven Pounds," $3.4 million; and Manadate Int'l.'s "Saw V," $46.4 million.
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