'Pirates' deflects new tentpoles

But 'Ocean's 13' and 'Shrek 3' strong in overseas exposure

Johnny Depp and his fellow marauders navigated "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" to a foreign gross of $493.6 million in its third weekend, making the Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer production the 15th most popular film ever released in the overseas market.

Despite an overall average drop of 50%, ranging from a 20% slide in Japan to 72% in Russia, the third installment of the pirate fantasy dominated the international market for a third session with a weekend take of $51 million from 17,500 screens in 103 territories.

But as overseas distributor Buena Vista International has its eye on $600 million for "At World's End," a peak achieved by only six tentpoles previously -- "Titanic," three Harry Potters, one "Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" -- "Pirates 3" is beginning to face formidable competition as a batch of new summer entries start or expand their foreign journeys.

The third of Warner Bros. Pictures' heist sequels, "Ocean's Thirteen," lifted $28 million from 4,200 prints in 30 markets, ranking No. 1 on the boxoffice charts in 20 countries, among them the U.K., Spain, Italy and Taiwan.

At the same time, the Paramount/DreamWorks animated "Shrek the Third" added 14 more dates to its release schedule, resulting in a weekend take of $24.5 million from 1,593 screens in 18 markets for a foreign cume to date of $54 million.

Slowly entering the market are Sony's animated offering "Surf's Up," which opened day-and-date with its domestic release in two markets -- Russia ($2.1 million from 340 screens) and the Ukraine ($180,000 from 59) -- and the same studio's overseas release of Lionsgate's gory "Hostel: Part II," which took in $451,000 from 139 screens in five smaller markets.

Waiting in the wings for a takeoff this coming weekend is another sequel, 20th Century Fox's sci-fi action-adventure "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," which is set to invade 31 markets, including the U.K., Italy, Russia and Taiwan.

In the midst of the invasion of new entries, the first of the summer blockbusters, Sony's "Spider-Man 3," hoisted its international gross to $538.5 million after picking up $6.5 million from 6,445 screens in 75 markets in its sixth week of international release. Six-week totals include $66.1 million from the U.K., $54.3 million from Japan, $34.4 million from Mexico and $33.4 million from Korea.

"At World's End," which saw its worldwide boxoffice go up to $746.6 million thanks to a robust foreign performance in the face of a domestic falloff -- foreign took in $51 million at the third weekend to domestic's $21.3 million.

"Pirates 3's" overall foreign cume of $493.6 million is said to be the fastest that sum has been achieved in the foreign market. The picture is rated the third biggest in BVI's history. At this point, it has beaten "Pirates 1" by 40% and has so far generated 77% of the business of "Pirates 2," which ended up with $642 million. China, the final foreign market, is ready to greet "At World's End" this coming weekend.

Among the No. 1 openings for "Ocean's Thirteen," the U.K. brought in $6 million from 699 prints; Spain, $3.1 million from 487; Italy, $2.3 million from 526; Austria, $806,000 from 111; Taiwan, $786,000 from 85; Hong Kong, $718,000 from 55, and Turkey, $741,000 from 114. In Germany, the Steven Soderbergh-directed crime thriller came in second to "At World's End," grossing $4 million from 763 screens.

With the exception of Australia and South Korea, "Shrek the Third" has mainly visited the world's smaller markets so far and will invade France, Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan and Turkey among the 13 new territories it's set to enter this coming weekend. It made powerful debuts in Australia ($8.5 million from 277) and Korea ($5.9 million from 480 screens, with a market total of $11 million including previews).

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Zodiac" tallied $3.6 million over the weekend from 1,850 prints in 44 markets to provide a cume of $32.5 million. The company's violent Greek epic "300" opened No. 2 in Japan with $3.4 million from 452 prints, lifting the international gross to $235.7 million.

Fox's "28 Weeks Later" took in $1.2 million from 859 screens in 15 markets to reach a cume of $19 million.

New openings include Sony's "Are We Done Yet?" which hit No. 3 in the U.K. with $796,070 from 272 screens, and a total of $845,000 from four markets for a cume to date of $5 million.

With the exception of "At World's End" and "Zodiac," among the top six titles in France are "Death Proof," "Dialogue Avec Mon Jardinier," "88 Minutes" and "Coeurs Perdus."

Cume updates: "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $174.3 million; "Hot Fuzz," $50.1 million; "Next," $18.7 million; "The Good Shepherd," $19.6 million; "The Holiday," $141.4 million; "Shooter," $46 million; "Blades of Glory," $16.9 million, and "Disturbia," $8.9 million.
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