'Sex' only part of weekend's action

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Sex and action comingled to stir up the weekend's overseas boxoffice, with New Line's "Sex and the City" joining the May madness with a weighty opening of $37.2 million from only 14 markets, and Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" bringing in $70.7 million from 47 territories in its first follow-up session.

Also contributing to a noteworthy weekend at foreign multiplexes were "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $17.8 million; "What Happens in Vegas," $13 million; and "Iron Man," $8 million.

After the earlier collapse of "Speed Racer," the final weekend of May renewed faith in this year's summer season, as the five top scorers brought in a total of $146.7 million compared with 2007's $127.7 million, when the weekend was dominated by the record $103 million from "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" alone.

Also significant this year is the ability of a romantic comedy to challenge megabuck action tentpoles. "Sex" — released overseas by territorial distributors as part of holdover deals with New Line International until Warner Bros. International takes over in 2009 — grabbed the No. 1 spot in the U.K., via Entertainment Distributors, with an eye-opening $17.3 million from 980 screens. "Sex" also hit the top in Germany ($7.4 million from 974 screens), France ($6.1 million from 551), Italy ($2.8 million from 535), and in Austria, Turkey and South Africa.

This coming weekend, "Sex" is scheduled to open in 19 new markets as the European Cup soccer championships get under way.

Meanwhile, "Crystal Skull" hit an international cume of $265.6 million, as it delivered $54.6 million in 11 days from the U.K., $25.9 million from France, $20.7 million from Spain, $18.3 million from Germany, $18.1 million from Korea, $17.3 million from Australia, $11.5 million from Italy, $14 million from Russia, $8.3 million from Brazil and $7.9 million from Mexico.

Despite Disney CEO Robert Iger's comment that "Prince Caspian" is not doing as well as expected because of its May release date (instead of Christmas), the family-faith offering appears to be holding up well in the overseas market. So far, "Caspian" has brought in $74.1 million, with 30% of the international market still to go, including Australia (this weekend) and Western Europe (in July). The weekend saw "Caspian" bring in $17.8 million from 4,390 screens in 19 countries. In many instances, the second edition of the film is beating last year's holiday totals by as much as 30%. "Caspian" currently holds the No. 1 spot in seven of the 19 countries in which it is currently playing.

In an early analysis of summer playing time, boxoffice pundits feared that the juxtaposition of romantic comedies during the May barrage of action tentpoles would spell disaster. At this time, they're re-evaluating their predictions — what with the performance of "Sex and the City" and Fox's Cameron Diaz-Ashton Kutcher comedy romance "What Happens in Vegas." "Vegas" is nearing the $100 million mark in overseas boxoffice earnings, having reached $96.3 million over the weekend after its $13 million take from 4,084 screens in 61 markets. The U.K. has brought in $13.3 million in four weekends; Spain, $9.9 million; Germany, $9 million; Russia, $8.8 million; France, $8.2 million; and Australia, $7.9 million.

Paramount/Marvel Comics' earlier tentpole, the Robert Downey Jr. starrer "Iron Man," picked up another $8 million from about 5,000 sites in some 48 markets to lift its international cume to a solid $265.6 million. The U.K. has brought in $31.7 million in four weekends; France, $17.8 million; Australia, $17 million; Spain, $11.2 million; Germany, $8.1 million; and Brazil, $13.5 million.

Another romantic comedy that defied the odds is Sony's "Made of Honor," which came up against "Iron Man" in the first week of May. It hit a respectable $30.8 million after picking up $4.1 million over the weekend from 1,772 screens in 26 countries.

"Speed Racer," meanwhile, added another $2.7 million to its foreign cume, which reached $33.8 million following a $959,000 opening in Russia from 436 prints. Upcoming openings include Australia (June 12), France (June 18) and Japan (July 5.)

Other weekend tallies included "21," $3.1 million (cume: $53.2 million); "27 Dresses," $1.2 million (cume: $77.2 million); and "Fool's Gold," $1.2 million (cume: $39 million). (partialdiff)
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