'Quantum' physics: $39 mil = No. 1

Bond tops int'l boxoffice with only three territories

Sony's foreign distribution arm joined the $1 billion club during the weekend thanks to the strong overseas opening of the latest James Bond offering. "Quantum of Solace," the 22nd installment in the 007 saga, pulled in $39 million from 2,134 screens in just three markets: the U.K., France and Sweden.

Sony Pictures Releasing International became the sixth MPA company to top $1 billion this year, marking the second year in a row that every major studio has hurdled the industry benchmark.

"Quantum's" achievement is most notable in that, while 13 previous films have had bigger openings, none reached their heights from fewer than 27 territories, SPRI distribution chief Mark Zucker said.

Daniel Craig's second outing as Bond will have 10,000 prints screening across 57 new markets by the weekend, leading to speculation of $70 million-$80 million for the period. The film is not scheduled to open in the U.S. until Nov. 14.

In Bond's backyard the U.K., "Quantum" took in $15.4 million from a huge screen count of 1,178, corralling 70% of the weekend business and topping the bow of the previous 007, "Casino Royale," by about 35%.

France's $10.9 million from 807 screens was the biggest ever for a Bond film, as was Sweden's $2.8 million from 149.

As the major studios gear up for the holiday season, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" continued to attract its target audience of teens, taking in $29 million from 4,625 screens in 34 countries for a cume to date of $88 million. According to Disney, "HSM3" came in No. 1 in 24 markets, highlighted by Italy's $5.5 million from 537, Mexico's $1.7 million from 535, Belgium's $1.3 million from 84 and South Africa's $540,000 from 78.

In the U.K., "HSM3" gave way to Bond, moving to second place with $4.5 million from 475 screens -- a 54% drop -- while upping its market cume to $28.7 million. In France, the second weekend was up 4% to $4 million from 391 for a market cume of $9.4 million. In Germany, Spain and Brazil, the teen musical held No. 1 for a second weekend.

The next opening for "HSM3" will be Russia on Nov. 13, followed by the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and finally Japan on Feb. 7.

The power of Russia (along with Ukraine) as new markets that can bring in top boxoffice dollars was demonstrated again by the welcome the two countries gave first openings of DreamWorks/Paramount's animated sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa." The Russia/Ukraine take came to a hefty $18.1 million from 640 screens. Russia's own "Kolchak," meanwhile, released by 20th Century Fox International, has taken in $36.5 million from the two markets in four weeks.

The Coen brothers' crime comedy "Burn After Reading" is maintaining a steady pace overseas, taking in $6.7 million from 1,705 playdates in 20 markets as part of a split-rights release between Universal and territorial distributors lined up by Focus Features. Universal's weekend share came to $3.5 million from 1,174 dates in seven markets, providing Universal a cume to date of $24.1 million.

"Saw V" picked up an estimated $6.1 million over the weekend from 26 territories, with about $1.7 million coming from Latin American dates, with top-of-the-market bows reported from several countries. In the U.K, the horror sequel took in $1.5 million in its second session, providing a market cume of $5.6 million and a third-place listing.

Warner Bros.' "Get Smart," which got off to a slow start, has since gained momentum and reached $100.2 million at the overseas boxoffice.

Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" dropped just 12% in its fourth week in France, tallying $1.6 million from 430 prints for a market cume of $12 million. The international gross, including Spain, stands at $22.5 million.

Universal's feel-good musical "Mamma Mia!" became the third-highest-grossing film of 2008, according to Universal, as it grossed $3.2 million during the weekend from 38 territories, raising its cume to $414.8 million.

More weekend action: "WALL-E," $3.7 million (cume: $259.4 million); "Eagle Eye," $3.6 million (cume: $66.2 million); "Max Payne," $3.1 million (cume: $23.6 million); "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," $3.7 million (cume: $76.4 million).
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