The beat goes on for 'Mamma Mia!' overseas

In mid-September, the big dogs of summer still barking

LOS ANGELES -- You can't keep 'em down. The blockbusters of summer, led by Universal's musical miracle "Mamma Mia!" persisted as the top draws at overseas multiplexes during a period without any semblance of new competition.

The stage-to-film adaptation featuring the music of '70s Swedish pop stars ABBA dominated the international market for a second weekend, pulling in $19.5 million from 4,434 locations in 43 markets for an eye-catching foreign gross of $309 million. At the same time, "Mamma Mia!" solidified its position as the top-grossing movie musical of all time in the overseas market and has more than doubled its domestic take of $139.2 million.

Sony's "Hancock," a major overseas force from late June through most of July, returned to the fray after a short siesta, taking in $10.6 million over the weekend from 1,425 screens in 31 markets, fueled mostly by an $8 million opening from 678 screens in Italy.

Universal's comic book adaptation "Wanted," slowly winding up its overseas run, reached an overseas gross of $158.3 million as it picked up $8 million from 2,110 playdates in 31 countries, with Spain coming aboard with a No. 1 opening of $34 million from 367 screens.

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," Universal's third entry in the weekend's top four, became the highest-grossing film in the "Mummy" franchise as it advanced to $268.5 million after bringing in $7.5 million from 3,327 screens in 48 markets. The first of the three "Mummy" films tallied $260 million overseas in 1999.

Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" remained a potent holdover as it moved up to a whopping international gross of $449.1 million after earning $6.9 million over the weekend while playing on 4,100 screens in 61 territories.

"Mamma Mia!'s" ascendancy to major international hit status, along with New Line's "Sex and the City" ($250. 6 million), may have the major studios rethinking the value of femme-appeal movies dur-ing summer seasons usually dominated by fanboy action-adventures and animated family fare.

Over the weekend, "Mamma Mia!" opened No. 1 in six markets -- France ($3 million), Belgium ($1 million), French-speaking Switzerland ($450,000), Hong Kong ($438,000), India ($97,000) and Brazil ($681,000). And holdovers have been especially strong. In the U.K., the Meryl Streep starrer holds the No. 2 spot after 10 weeks in the market, reaching a cume of $107.8 million. In Korea, it is No. 1 for a second weekend with $3.4 million from 427 screens for an 11-day take of $9.8 million. Fifteen more territories are still set to open, including Italy on Oct. 3 and Japan on Jan. 30.

"Hancock," benefiting from late dates in Japan and Italy, winds up its overseas run in Greece this weekend. To date, the Will Smith starrer has collected $20.9 million from Japan, $49.2 million from the U.K., $38.9 million from Germany, $30.7 million from France and $26.1 million from Russia.

"Mummy" has tallied $14 million in 14 days in China; in Japan, where it is being released by Toho Towa, the film has grossed $19.5 million in 23 dates. Two more territories are set to open: Italy on Sept. 26 and Greece on Oct. 9.

"Dark Knight's" steady climb saw it rank No. 1 in Germany for a fourth weekend, grossing $2 million from 940 screens for a market cume of $26 million. The U.K. has brought in $93.7 million to date and Australia, $42.4 million.

Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E," which took in $3.3 million for a cume to date of $190.6 million, is getting ready for its fall expansion, with Australia joining Sept. 18; Germany, Sept. 25; Italy, Oct. 17; and Japan, Dec. 5.

Paramount/DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" moved up to $404.8 million after a $4.1 million weekend.

Other weekend action: "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," $4.6 million (cume: $85.2 million); "Babylon A.D.," $1.4 million (cume: $6.8 million); "Get Smart," $2.3 million (cume: $94 million); "Pineapple Express," $2.5 million, including a No. 1 opening in the U.K. (cume: $6.6 million); "Step Brothers," $1.9 million (cume: $11.3 million); "Death Race," $3.8 million (cume: $7.7 million); and "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," $3 million (cume: $56.9 million).