'300' continues overseas blast

Greek epic dominates with $15.9 million in 2nd weekend

As the ultraviolent film about an ancient Greek battle, "300," blasted into the overseas market with tank-like force, major international distributors are again getting around to the thought that the foreign market is a year-round business and that the release of event-like entries need not be ganged-up in the traditional May-to-September summer period.

The fact that such films as "Norbit" and "Music and Lyrics" are holding well and the strong January-to-March boxoffice performance of "Night at the Museum" and "Ghost Rider," among others, serve as added ammunition for the major studios to step up their year-round activity.

With eight medium-sized countries joining the previous five small-market bows, Warner Bros. Pictures' "300" became the top overseas achiever as it hurdled to the front with an eye-catching $15.9 million over the weekend from 1,050 prints. The weekend performance was highlighted by an outstanding five-day bow in Korea of $6.4 million from 231 sites, grabbing a 63% market share of the top five films in Seoul, South Korea's largest city.

The Zack Snyder-directed film about the Battle of Thermopylae also dominated Turkey ($1.5 million from 112 screens), Thailand ($930,000 from 87), Hong Kong ($771,000 from 33) and India ($613,000 from 141). Second-weekend holdovers ranked No. 1 in all markets, according to Warners, with historically connected Greece providing "spectacular results" with $2.7 million from 112 prints, hailed as the second-biggest weekend ever in the market, behind "300's" opening weekend. This coming weekend, "300" plunges into key markets the U.K., France, Spain, Italy, Holland and Mexico.

Warner Bros. Pictures also is guiding the weekend's second outstanding scorer, the romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics," through foreign multiplexes, taking in $9.6 million from about 3,000 prints in 45 markets for a foreign cume to date of $57.2 million. It opened in France to $2.1 million from 350 screens, coming in No. 3 behind the five-week holdover "La Vie en Rose" (market cume: $35.6 million) and No. 1 opener, the Chinese adventure drama "Curse of the Golden Flower," which took in $2.4 million from 274 screens. The Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore starrer also opened well in Sweden ($223,000 from 50 screens) and Argentina ($163,000 from 30) and had strong holds in Germany, Korea and Mexico.

Thanks to eight more openings and good holds, the Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit" picked up almost $9 million over the weekend from 2,361 screens in 25 countries, lifting its international cume to $31.3 million. It held the No. 1 position in the U.K. for a second weekend with $2.1 million from 373 screens for a market cume to date of $7 million.

Sony's "Ghost Rider," another early boxoffice hit, continued to rack up decent numbers in new openings, taking in $1.7 million from a No. 2 bow in Italy, $212,000 in a No. 1 entry into Argentina and $217,000 in a No. 2 opening in Sweden. The cume is at $87.4 million.

"Night at the Museum," Fox's early-bird boxoffice bonanza, reached an international gross of $292.8 million as it brought in $6.8 million over the weekend from 2,122 screens in 15 countries. It opened No. 1 in Japan ($5.1 million from 575 screens, including previews) and has brought in $46.8 million in 12 weeks from the U.K.; $22.9 million, also in 12, from Germany; $16.2 million in eight weeks from Spain; and $16.8 million in six from France.

"Wild Hogs," the buddy adventure comedy starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy, is beginning to take hold as it starts to branch out, gripping the No. 1 spot in four markets over the weekend, according to distributor Buena Vista International. It bowed in Russia to $1 million from 195 screens and in the Ukraine to $220,000 from 48, and held the top position for a second weekend in Australia and New Zealand.

Fox's "Epic Movie" brought in $3.7 million over the weekend from 1,026 screens in nine countries to raise its international cume to $24.2 million, with Mexico greeting the film at No. 1 with $1.3 million from 156 screens.

"Hot Fuzz," starting to spread out after a $37.2 million take in five weeks in the U.K., grossed $2.9 million over the weekend from 660 screens in three markets as Australia and New Zealand came aboard.

The Oscar-winning animated film "Happy Feet" opened in Japan to $2.1 million from 499 prints to hoist its foreign gross to $175 million. "Blood Diamond" crossed $100 million ($101.9 million) in the international market as it grossed $1.6 million over the weekend from 1,350 prints in 45 markets. At the same time, "The Devil Wears Prada" went over $200 million at the overseas boxoffice after pulling in $2 million in three weeks in China.

Summit Entertainment's overseas release "Bridge to Terabithia" took in $2.3 million from 1,222 screens in 16 markets for a cume of $13.2 million.

"The Pursuit of Happyness," with a $2 million weekend, now has a cume of $135.4 million; "Borat" advanced to $130.4 million after a $1 million weekend; and "Deja Vu" has grossed $107.5 million after adding $1.4 million.

Warner Bros.' Italian release "Ho voglia di te" took in $3.6 million from 694 prints in its second weekend, holding the No. 1 position in the market and raising its local cume to $15.2 million.

Cume updates: "Saw III," $79.7 million; "The Number 23," $11.8 million; "Little Children," $7.4 million; "The Last King of Scotland," $23.5 million; "Notes on a Scandal," $22.8 million; "Dreamgirls," $47.2 million; "Flushed Away," $111.6 million; "An Inconvenient Truth," $23.3 million; "Barnyard," $41.8 million; "Charlotte's Web," $58.7 million; and "Babel;" $39.3 million.