'Asterix' shows Gaul, wins o'seas


The overseas circuit took a Gallic turn during the weekend as France's "Asterix at the Olympic Games" opened across Europe atop of the international boxoffice heap, grossing an estimated $25 million from about 6,000 screens in nine territories.

Backed by an unprecedented $5.8 million marketing campaign in France, Pathe Distribution's release of the third installment in the hugely popular "Asterix" series took a 47% boxoffice share of its home market and performed strongly in Germany and Austria as well. The France take came to an estimated $17 million from 1,078 screens in the opening five days.

In Germany, the take was an estimated $3 million from about 500 situations. In Austria, the weekend estimate came to $675,000 from 75 sites, including $38,000 from previews. However, in the U.K., the latest "Asterix" fared poorly, ranking 61st in the market with $4,000 from just three playdates. (Complete returns from Russia, Belgium, Greece, Switzerland and Poland were not available on Sunday.)

At a production budget of $113 million, "Asterix at the Olympic Games" is the most expensive French movie ever made. Like its two predecessors — "Asterix and Obelix Versus Caesar" and "Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra" — it is a live-action adaptation of a comic strip about a band of roistering Gauls who refuse to bend to Roman invaders. The cast includes Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon and Clovis Cornillac. Openings in Italy, Holland and Spain loom this week.

The weekend also accommodated a mix of newcomers including Sony's "Cheung Gong 7 Hou" (CJ7), from Hong Kong director Stephen Chow, which debuted in time for Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, Taiwan and in Australia. The father-son family drama grabbed an estimated $4.8 million from 241 sites in the three markets.

Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" opened via Manga Film in Spain, garnering an action-packed $1.8 million from an undisclosed number of screens. Disney opened the No. 1 domestic title, "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert," at a trio of 3-D-equipped situations in South Africa, landing an estimated $30,000.

The biggest Hollywood film overseas was No. 2-ranked "Cloverfield," which drew an estimated $18.6 million from 3,174 screens in 33 markets, raising its international cume to $36 million. The sci-fi thriller from director Matt Reeves opened in 15 territories from distributor Paramount Pictures International. The biggest was the U.K., where it finished No. 1 with an estimated $6.7 million from 386 spots. Italy provided $2.4 million from 257 screens.

No. 3 on the weekend was DreamWorks/Warner Bros. International's "Sweeney Todd," which finished on top last frame but dropped nearly 50% to an estimated $9.5 million from about 1,700 situations in 18 markets. The musical's cume stands at $46.5 million. Universal International's "American Gangster" finished fourth with an estimated $8 million from 2,528 screens in 46 markets, hoisting the Ridley Scott crime drama's overseas total to $114.9 million.

WBI's "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman laughed all the way to $5.8 million from about 1,500 screens in 15 markets for a cume of $12.4 million. 20th Century Fox International's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" lifted its overseas cume to $113.3 million thanks to a $5.1 million weekend at 3,200 screens in 35 markets.

The Coen brothers' crime drama "No Country for Old Men" remains strong in France and the U.K., grossing an estimated $4.2 million from 936 spots in 10 markets; its cume stands at $17.2 million. Disney's "Enchanted" drew an estimated $2.8 million from 3,150 spots in 39 territories, lifting its overseas cume to $172.1 million. The title is expected to cross the $300 million mark globally this week.