'Avatar' still overseas champ

Blockbuster's foreign gross stands at $1.585 billion

Buoyed by its nine Oscar nominations, "Avatar" reigned as the boxoffice champ in its eighth round on the foreign circuit, grossing $79.4 million on the weekend from 10,298 screens in 120 markets.

Its record-setting overseas gross now stands at $1.585 billion, the polar opposite of the anemic foreign tally (less than $3.5 million) amassed to date by "Avatar's" chief Academy Award competitor, director Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker."

Opening at No. 10 in Brazil over the weekend at 41 screens, "Locker" grossed $128,792. In Argentina, it opened No. 5 with $194,201 collected from 48 venues.

Record global tally for "Avatar," director James Cameron's blockbuster spectacle in 3D released by 20th Century Fox, now stands at $2.214 billion.

"Avatar" will be challenged for the top spot on the foreign circuit next weekend when Universal opens its much-hyped "The Wolfman" in 37 offshore markets simultaneously with the film's domestic debut on Friday. The overseas run actually begins Wednesday in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

By the end of February, director Joe Johnston's update (co-starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt) of the classic 1941 Universal horror title (co-starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi and Evelyn Ankers) will be playing in 95% of the world, according to Universal.

The top market for "Avatar" on the weekend was Italy, where "Avatar" generated $8.45 million from 829 screens for a market cume of $69.6 million. Top territories in terms of market cumes are China (total, $144.6 million), France ($142.2 million), Germany ($117.7 million), the U.K. ($116.5 million, making "Avatar" the biggest grosser ever to play the market), Russia ($106 million) and Japan ($107 million).

In other weekend action, Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law held on to its No. 2 position overall, grossing on the weekend $16.9 million from 4,620 screens in 62 markets. A No. 1 France opening generated $5.9 million from 676 locations. "Sherlock Holmes' " foreign cume stands at $242.9 million.

No. 3 was Disney's return to hand-drawn animation, "The Princess and the Frog," which opened in seven territories and which in total provided 60% of the overall weekend gross of $15.5 million from 3,438 screens in 39 markets.

Top openers were Spain ($3.6 million from 374 screens, ranking No. 2 in the market) and the U.K., where the market ranking was No. 2 with $3.5 million from 460 sites. "Princess' " second No. 2 France round boosted the market cume to $13.3 million in 11 days. Foreign cume stands at $95.3 million.

Fourth was "Up in the Air," which, propelled by its six Academy Award nominations plus openings in nine territories, touched down to $10.4 million from 2,608 screens in 40 markets for a foreign cume to date of $48.6 million. Director Jason Reitman's comedy-drama starring George Clooney premiered at No. 4 in Germany with $1.8 million from 243 spots.

No. 5 and grossing $10.3 million on the weekend was the Clint Eastwood-directed "Invictus" from Warners, which played 2,365 screens in 31 markets for a foreign cume to date of $42.7 million. A U.K. bow generated $1.67 million from 275 sites, sufficient for a No. 4 market ranking. A No. 4 Japan opener came up with $1.5 million from 319 screens.

Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," now in its seventh round on the international circuit, collected $7.1 million from 3,699 situations in 42 territories. Overseas total so far has surpassed the $200 million mark ($200.9 million).

Universal's "It's Complicated" drew $5.8 million on the weekend from 2,503 locations in 38 territories, raising its overseas cume to $73.5 million. Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep took the No. 7 Germany spot with $1.4 million from 553 sites for an 18-day market total of $7.1 million.

Fox's "Tooth Fairy," a comic fantasy starring Dwayne Johnson came up with $3.9 million on the weekend from 2,067 screens in 21 territories for an early foreign cume of $31.9 million. The fourth Mexico weekend produced $607,944 from 361 screens for a market cume of $6.5 million.

Sony's "Did You Hear About the Morgans?," a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, grabbed $3.8 million on the weekend from 1,931 screens in 49 markets, pushing its foreign cume to $41.9 million. A Russia bow at 314 spots generated $1.4 million.

Playing the U.K and opening in Australia via Icon Distribution, "Edge of Darkness" starring Mel Gibson took in $2.4 million on the weekend from both markets from 617 screens in both territories. The film's second-weekend U.K. cume stands at $4.1 million.

Also in the U.K., Paramount opened "Youth in Revolt," Dimension Films' romantic comedy starring Michael Cera, in the No. 7 market spot. The weekend produced $1.16 million from 280 locales. E1 Entertainment's release of "Astro Boy," a sci-fi animation outing, took the No. 3 U.K. spot with 1.7 million from 407 screens.

In Germany, top local-language newcomer was "Zeiten Andern Dich," director Uli Edel's biopic of Tunisian-German gangsta rapper Bushido (nee Anis Ferchichi). The Constantin release opened at No. 3 in the market, garnering an estimated $3 million from 426 locations. A No. 5 Austria debut generated $204,864 from 17 sites.

In Japan, Gaga's "Oceans," an ecological docu-drama from co-directors Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin, is showing real legs with a No. 2 finish in its third weekend with $2.5 million derived from 302 spots for a market cume of $15.5 million. Reaching a cume of $8 million in its second weekend was director Yoji Yamada's drama, "Ototo" (About Her Brother) from Shochiku Co.

Opening in France was Pathe's "Proteger et servir" (Protect and Serve), director/co-writer Eric Lavaine's comedy about a pair of policemen costarring Kad Merad, Clovis Cornillac and Carol Bouquet. Its debut weekend at 345 sites produced $1.7 million and a No. 6 market ranking.

Other international cumes: Summit/Sony's "Book of Eli," $20.8 million (after a $2.7 million weekend at 1,276 sites in 23 markets); DreamWorks/Paramount's "The Lovely Bones," $12.6 million; Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $98.4 million (thanks to a $3.1 million weekend at 1,287 screens in 21 markets); the Weinstein Co.'s "Nine," $18.9 million; Sony's "Legion," $9.8 million; Universal's "Serge Gainsbourg, vie heroique," $8.5 million over 19 days in France only; IM Global's "Paranormal Activity," estimated $75 million; Sony's "Friendship," $12.5 million from Germany and Austria; and Universal's "Couples Retreat," $59.6 million.

Also, Fox's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," $19.9 million; Disney's "Old Dogs," $41.1 million; Sony's "Armored," $3.2 million; Focus Features/Universal's "A Serious Man," $17.1 million; Universal's Cirque du Freak; The Vampire's Assistant," $15 million; Paramount's "Celda 211," $16.6 million (from Spain only); Focus Features' "Love Happens," $10.2 million/; Disney's "Surrogates," $82.4 million; Paramount's "Case 39," $12.2 million; Pixar/Disney's "Up," $437.5 million; and Focus Features/Universal's "9," $16.5 million.