Bean counters drive o'seas b.o.

Atkinson's 'Holiday' lands $33.3 mil, topping '300'

The epic violence of "300" ceded the No. 1 overseas box-office spot for the pre-Easter weekend to the family-oriented "Mr. Bean's Holiday," which grossed an estimated $33.3 million from 3,061 theaters in 26 territories.

The Rowan Atkinson comedy finished a decisive first in 21 of its 24 new territories (it bowed in Singapore and Malaysia the previous weekend), recording the biggest opening weekend of any title from Working Title Films, Britain's best-known independent production concern, which co-produced the film with Universal and France's StudioCanal.

"It's out-of-the-box huge," said David Kosse, president of Universal Pictures International, "Holiday's" overseas distributor. "The uniformity of strength over all the different regions and all the different types of markets (demonstrates) the strength of this character and the universal appeal of Mr. Bean."

In an interview from London, Kosse said that it's too early to project a final international boxoffice gross figure for "Holiday," but he noted that the first feature in the series, 1997's "Bean," finished with $205 million overseas. The new film is "by far the No. 1 choice for kids and families going into the Easter period, a solid two weeks of school holidays" that augurs strong daily and weekend business, the UPI executive said.

Defying exceptionally balmy weekend weather in the U.K., "Holiday" finished first in the market with an estimated $12.8 million (including previews) from 512 theaters, the biggest opening of the year in this key territory and Universal's fourth-biggest U.K. opening ever.

Other No. 1 debuts include Germany (an estimated $5.5 million from 847 theaters, marking this year's biggest market bow) and Australia ($3.2 million from 257 locations, also the market's biggest 2007 opener). In Spain, "Holiday" trailed "300" with an estimated $2.2 million from 280 sites.

In Russia, the weekend tally was an estimated $1 million from 157 theaters, Universal's sixth-best opening in the market. In neighboring Finland, "Holiday" pulled an estimated $630,000 from 51 locations, for a lusty per-screen average of $12,353. It was Universal International's biggest Finland opening ever.

"Holiday" continues its two-month international rollout this weekend with openings in 18 markets, including Italy, Brazil and Mexico; the film's U.S. bow is Aug. 31. So far on the international circuit, it has accumulated $35.6 million.

Finishing a close No. 2 for the weekend was Warner Bros. International's "300," which battled its way to an estimated $30 million from 5,100 theaters in 52 markets — exactly twice the number of territories played by "Holiday." The Zack Snyder-directed ancient Greek epic, which had topped the international boxoffice for the previous two stanzas, has an overseas cume of $125.5 million.

There were two key No. 1 openings, the bigger of which was Brazil, where "300" nabbed an estimated $2.7 million from 522 theaters — representing 76% of the top-five market share — the second-biggest WBI market bow behind 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." In Argentina, the weekend estimate was $650,000 from 91 spots, representing 51% market share of the market's top five titles.

It was key holdovers, however, that threw off the biggest grosses for "300." The U.K. leads the list with an estimated $4.4 million in the second weekend from 380 theaters for a market cume of $17.6 million. In Spain, where it ranked No. 1 for the second weekend, "300" muscled its way to an estimated $3.6 million from 540 locales for a cume of $12.1 million.

In Italy, the title also held the No. 1 spot for the second consecutive weekend with an estimated $3.3 million from 510 sites, good for a market cume of $10 million. In France, the second weekend's catch was an estimated $2.2 million from 485 theaters for a cume of $8.5 million.

That BVI title, a Pixar-generated 3-D animated film from the Walt Disney Co., opened overseas day-and-date with its domestic bow, grabbing an estimated $8.5 million from 3,200 theaters in 22 territories, enough to qualify as this weekend's No. 3 international title.

In the U.K., "Robinsons" bowed at No. 3 in the market, scoring an estimated $2 million from 450 theaters. In Mexico, the film was No. 1 with an estimated $1.8 million from 450 sites. The opening in Spain provided a third-place finish with an estimated $1.6 million from 410 sites. This weekend, "Robinsons" opens in 14 largely medium-sized markets.

In the No. 4 spot overall is "Music and Lyrics," WBI's romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, which warbled all the way to an estimated $4.2 million from 2,450 sites in 54 markets. Its international cume stands at $73.5 million.

Paramount Pictures International's "Norbit" finished No. 5 overall with an estimated $4.1 million from 2,145 theaters in 43 territories, lifting its overseas cume to $49.3 million. In Italy, the Eddie Murphy comedy earned an estimated $877,000 from 230 spots for a market total of $3 million.