Overseas b.o. has French accent

Reigning Gallic champ 'Bienvenue' outpaces U.S. pics

The French comedy "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" narrowly claimed the No. 1 spot internationally during the weekend as two American front-runners — "10,000 BC" and "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!" — sagged in a generally somnolent post-Easter session overseas.

"Bienvenue," the French film industry's biggest-ever hit, recorded an estimated $14.7 million from about 900 screens in its fifth consecutive weekend as the dominant No. 1 title in France. The weekend total, down a relatively benign 40% from the previous market stanza, is likely to float higher since boxoffice estimates from the film's runs in French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium were not available Sunday.

"Horton" finished No. 2 overall for the weekend. The animated 20th Century Fox International release, with a voice cast that includes Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett, bagged an estimated $13.2 million from 5,743 screens in 52 markets in its third frame. That's down 46% from last weekend, when it played at 6,125 situations. Its cume is $77 million foreign and $117.3 million domestic.

Playing in 62 territories, Warner Bros. International's "10,000 BC," which had been the international circuit's top title for the past three weekends, came in at No. 3 this stanza. Roland Emmerich's prehistoric epic grossed an estimated $12 million from about 6,500 screens — a 56% drop from last stanza in the same number of markets — for an overseas cume of $142.5 million.

Created by playwright-director-actor-comic Dany Boon, "Bienvenue" is a comedy of manners about a Provencal postal worker who is transferred to a small northern village, where the locals speak an incomprehensible dialect. It is a genuine boxoffice phenomenon, grossing an estimated $152 million to date largely from just its home territory.

Finishing fourth on the weekend is Paramount Pictures International's family-oriented "The Spiderwick Chronicles," which raised its overseas total to $48.1 million thanks to a strong U.K. session and an overall $8.1 million weekend from 3,446 screens in 52 territories. Summit Entertainment International/Universal's "Step Up 2 The Streets" rounded out the top five with an estimated $7 million from 1,749 screens in 27 markets for an international total of $51.7 million. Its worldwide cume is $108 million.

Fox's comedy "27 Dresses" drew an estimated $6.1 million for the weekend from 2,481 screens in 21 markets, hoisting its cume to $58.8 million. The same distributor's "Jumper" had No. 1 weekends in Central America, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay, resulting in a $5.3 million stanza from 1,886 screens in 34 markets overall. Its cume is $118.3 million.

Sony's political thriller "Vantage Point" tallied an estimated $4.9 million from 2,305 situations in 47 markets, lifting its cume to $61.2 million.

Thanks to numerous promotional appearances in Germany by topliner Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Disney's American football-themed "The Game Plan" finished the weekend with an estimated $4.8 million from 1,153 screens in 15 markets for an overseas cume of $38.7 million. In Germany, "Game Plan" opened in a bid for the No. 1 market spot with an estimated $2.3 million from 385 spots.

Fox's comedy-spoof "Meet the Spartans" continues to chug along overseas, lifting its international cume to $31.9 million thanks to a $4.7 million weekend at 918 screens in 16 territories.

"Juno," from Fox, pulled an estimated $2.8 million from 338 screens in 15 markets, raising its international total to $58.8 million. Universal's "The Other Boleyn Girl," which the distributor is releasing in 16 markets, raised $ 2.6 million from 812 screens in 14 territories for a cume of $24.5 million.

Paramount's "Drillbit Taylor," a high school bodyguard comedy starring Owen Wilson, came up with a guarded $2.6 million from 821 locations in six markets for a cume of $5.9 million ($26.5 million worldwide). In Japan, Disney's "Enchanted" emerged on top in the market for the third consecutive weekend, scoring an estimated $2.1 million from 403 screens; the Japan cume alone tallies $16 million. Overall, the musical fantasy has grossed $201.8 million overseas — the 26th film in Disney history to pass the $200 million mark internationally. Domestically, its total is $127 million.

A pair of Oscar heavies, Paramount's "No Country for Old Men" and Disney's release of Miramax's "There Will Be Blood," raised their cumes to $78.3 million and $31.7 million, respectively. The Coen brothers crime drama grossed $2 million from 1,141 screens in 53 markets, while "Blood" drew $1.1 million from 610 spots.

The France market in general continues to perk, with "Chasseurs de dragons" (Dragon Hunters), an animation adventure fantasy from BAC, opening No. 2, while the Spanish-French co-production "The Oxford Murders," co-starring Elijah Wood and John Hurt, debuted at No. 3. Finishing fifth in the market was TFM's release of the James Mangold Western "3:10 to Yuma."

Other international cume updates: Sony's "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," $56.2 million; Fox's "The Darjeeling Limited," $17 million; Universal's "Charlie Wilson's War," $45.8 million; New Line Cinema's "The Golden Compass," $281 million as of Thursday; Fox's "Shutter," $1.5 million; Universal's "Definitely, Maybe," $12.6 million; New Line's "Run Fat Boy Run," $25.9 million as of Thursday; Universal's "We Own the Night," $7 million (Universal territories only); and Fox's "La Misma Luna," $3.8 million.
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