Trading places: 'Dark Knight' swaps No. 1s
Three bows put Warner Bros. hit back on top overseasAs the summer season comes to a close, klieg lights are shining on a batch of films before vacation periods end and the trek back to school begins. Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" regained the overseas lead -- even as it relinquished the No. 1 domestic position after a four-week stand -- reaching a foreign gross of $328.6 million with its weekend take of $42.4 from 7,775 screens in 61 markets.
Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," the international champ for two successive weekends, eased into second place, but maintained a hot pace by grossing $29.1 million and lifting its cume to $193.5 million.
Universal's musical entry "Mamma Mia!" passed the $200 million mark as it pulled in $17.6 million from 2,679 playdates in 25 countries. Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E," meanwhile, added $13.2 million and raised its international gross to $145.8 million.
Joining the top foreign grossers this weekend was Sony's Adam Sandler starrer "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," which racked up $11.2 million thanks to key dates in the U.K., Germany and Brazil.
Warner Bros.' "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the CG-animated effort from George Lucas, opened to $7.4 million from $3,260 in 22 markets, arriving No. 6 in the U.K. with $1.6 million from 419, No. 2 in Mexico with $1.2 million from 678 and No. 4 in Australia with $1.2 million from 267.
For "Knight," it was a vindication of its ability to attract foreign moviegoers. The best the Caped Crusader previously had done overseas was $166.5 million for 2005's "Batman Begins."
"Knight's" return to foreign dominance was fueled by top bows in France ($9.5 million from 850 screens), Spain ($7.1 million from 570) and Russia ($3.5 million from 610). In second-weekend action in Korea, "Knight" ($5.2 million from 373) held off the debut of two local films and reached a cume of $14.3 million. The second weekend in Japan, however, grossed just $1.6 million for a cume of $8.7 million.
Japan welcomed "Mummy" in the No. 2 spot ($7 million from 326 screens) behind Hayao Miyazaki's animated tale "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" ($7.7 million from 481), which has dominated the local boxoffice five weeks in a row for distributor Toho with a cume of $90 million.
"Mummy" has reached an international gross of $193.5 million thanks to strong holdovers in the U.K., Germany and Taiwan as well as solid openings in Belgium ($1.2 million from 62) and Vietnam ($177,000 from 18), which Universal hailed as the biggest opening in that country's history.
As "Mamma Mia!" climbed to $205.9 million, Universal trumpeted that it was the first of the studio's films to pass $200 million this year despite the fact that they still have "more than 35 territories yet to release." The film's only new weekend opening was in Spain, which tallied $4.8 million from 352 screens.
"WALL-E" opened in three small markets, with Thailand recording $783,000 from 119 screens, called the second-biggest Disney animated opening in the market. Top cumes to date include the U.K. with $37.9 million in four weeks; France, $16.9 million in two; and Mexico, $16.9 million in six.
"Zohan," which stayed away from the tentpoles in the early part of the summer, opened No. 1 in Germany with $5.1 million from 593, No. 3 in the U.K. ($3 million from 392) and No. 3 in Brazil ($880,000 from 121).
New weekend openings included Paramount's "Tropic Thunder," $2.6 million from three markets; Fox's "Mirrors," $661,746 from 11 markets, and Fox's "Taken," $3.3 million from Australia, Italy and Spain.
More weekend action: "Kung Fu Panda," $5.9 million (cume: $363.7 million); "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $5.7 million (cume: $262.2 million); "Wanted," $2.5 million (cume: $126.5 million); "Hancock," $3.8 million (cume: $339.4 million); "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," $3.5 million (cume: $36.5 million); "Meet Dave," $2.6 million (cume: $22.7 million); "Get Smart," $1.8 million (cume: $76.7 million).