'Ratatouille' No. 1 on menu again

$30.2 mil weekend ups Disney/Pixar toon to $310.1 mil cume

In a widely scattered overseas market packed with leftovers, specialized Oscar-hopeful entries and a batch of local-language films, "Ratatouille" emerged as the most popular film by a wide margin for the third weekend in a row, grossing $30.2 million from 4,547 screens in 31 countries.

The Disney/Pixar animated offering, in five final foreign ports after starting out June 28, reached an international gross of $310.1 million. Disney statisticians had a busy weekend recording new records set by "Ratatouille," among them: the third-most-popular Disney/Pixar enterprise after "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles"; the 10th Disney title to cross $300 million at the overseas boxoffice; and the sixth-most-popular nonsequel animated title ever.

New records also were achieved in individual openings. The film was No. 1 in 13 countries, including holdovers as well as in the five new bows. Italy's $8.2 million from 771 screens was hailed as the biggest Disney/Pixar opening ever in the market; Sweden's $2 million from 195 screens was the second-biggest opening in industry history; Poland's $1.5 million from 130 screens was the biggest Disney/Pixar opening; and Finland's $668,000 from 66 screens set an all-time Disney/Pixar record. China, which greeted "Ratatouille" at No. 1, pulled in $585,000 from 200 screens.

The French bistro rat-turned-culinary star served up $29.3 million in 18 days in Germany, and $18.5 million in two weekends in the U.K.

With 2,055 prints working in 35 countries, marked by nine new openings including the U.K. and Germany, Paramount's romantic fantasy "Stardust" had the right magic to capture the No. 2 spot over the weekend with $8 million, raising its international cume to $41.9 million. "Stardust" came in at No. 2 in the U.K. with $4.5 million from 445 screens; Germany greeted the Matthew Vaughn-directed film at No. 3 with $1.1 million from 351 locations.

Spain's "The Orphanage" (El Orfanato), distributed by Warner Bros. Spain, continued at No. 1 for a second weekend in the home market, taking in $5.1 million from 367 screens, a decline of 31% from the opening weekend. The market cume to date hit $15.6 million.

For New Line International, a highlight of the weekend was "Rush Hour 3's" hurdling of the $100 million mark. The Brett Ratner-directed Jackie Chan sequel hit an international gross of $101.1 million after a weekend score of $2.8 million from 2,863 screens in 53 markets.

The sci-fi franchise "Resident Evil: Extinction," released overseas by Sony International and Summit Entertainment (the latter through regional distributors), found an estimated $6.2 million over the weekend from 2,400 screens in 21 markets, providing an international cume to date of about $48.3 million. Its biggest bow, via a Summit distributor, was in Korea, where the zombie actioner, at No. 3, was the only U.S. film among the top five dominated by local entries, delivering $1.5 million from 226 screens.

In the search-for-Oscar category, George Clooney's "Michael Clayton," via indie Summit Entertainment, picked up almost $4 million over the weekend, opening No. 2 in France with $1.8 million from 301 screens. It also was No. 2 in Australia, opening to $720,000 from 122 screens. The film's estimated take from Taiwan came to $112,000, with Taipei reporting $56,000 from 13 screens. Summit said the Mexican opening was disappointing. The film is said to have played well in upmarket theaters but could not find an audience in the more commercial houses. The weekend take in Mexico came to $173,000 from 160 screens, with 50 upmarket locations accounting for nearly 80% of the film's total boxoffice, according to Summit.

More weekend action from a habitually crowded market:

"Superbad," $4.3 million (cume: $31.9 million); "The Heartbreak Kid," $3 million (cume: $18.6 million); "The Kingdom," $2.9 million, (cume: $57.4 million); "The Seeker: Dark Is Rising," $2.7 million (cume: $6.7 million); "The Brave One," $2.4 million (cume: $25 million); "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," $2.3 million (cume: $57.4 million); "Knocked Up," $2.3 million (cume: $61.2 million); "Invasion," $2.4 million (cume: $13.3 million); and "The Bourne Ultimatum," $2.1 million (cume: $182.6 million).

"Rendition," the Reese Witherspoon starrer with Oscar in its sights, bowed on 350 screens in two markets for an opening weekend take of $1.2 million. Other Oscar hopefuls include "Atonement," which has reached $23.4 million from four markets so far, and David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," which has picked up $3.3 million to date.

The Bruce Willis starrer "Die Hard 4.0" opens in Italy this coming weekend and closes its overseas run in China on Nov. 9. The international cume has reached $239 million.

Cume updates: "Evan Almighty," $70.8 million; "Hot Fuzz," $55 million; "Disturbia," $36.2 million; "Transformers," $383.5 million; "Shrek the Third," $471.9 million; "A Mighty Heart," $6.3 million; "Hairspray," $66.6 million; and "No Reservations," $47.1 million.
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