'Beowulf' conquers o'seas b.o.

Zemeckis' CG epic captures top spot with $17 mil

Warner Bros. International's "Beowulf," director Robert Zemeckis' reworking of the Old English epic poem, fought its way to No. 1 overseas during the weekend, grossing an estimated $17 million from about 2,500 screens in 13 markets.

The special effects-laden adventure fantasy yarn, shown in 3-D in many locations, had solid openings in the U.K. (placing No. 2 with an estimated $4.4 million from 552 screens), Germany and Italy.

But "Beowulf" finished most powerfully in Asia. The best market in that region was Korea, where the film ranked No. 1 with an estimated $3.7 million (including previews) from 159 screens for a mighty per-screen average of $23,270.

It also was first in Thailand, where it nabbed an estimated $788,000 from 128 prints. In Hong Kong, the No. 1 gross was $539,000 from just 45 locales for a per-screen average of $11,978. A first-place finish in Singapore yielded $538,000 from 50 sites for a per-screen average of $10,760.

Combined with its No. 1 opening domestically, "Beowulf" has notched an early worldwide gross of $45.1 million.

Finishing No. 2 on the weekend was Universal International's "American Gangster," the crime drama co-starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, which nabbed an estimated $14 million from 1,471 screens in 14 markets for a lusty per-screen average of $9,517.

Powered by No. 1 openings in the U.K., Germany, France, Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland, as well as strong stanzas in Austria and the Netherlands, "Gangster" displayed its boxoffice muscle overseas after small-market bows two weekends ago in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The early international gross for "Gangster" is $14.5 million, and its worldwide tally stands at $115.5 million; it is the weekend's No. 3 domestic title. "Gangster's" biggest overseas markets were the U.K. (an estimated $5.1 million from 410 screens), France ($3.4 million from 365 situations) and Germany ($3 million from 366 sites).

At No. 3 is DreamWorks/ Paramount Pictures International's "The Heartbreak Kid," the Farrelly brothers' comedy with Ben Stiller, which drew an estimated $7.1 million from 1,856 screens in 37 markets for an international total of $51.5 million. No. 4 was Universal's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which grabbed $6 million from 1,590 sites in 13 markets, a figure that includes No. 1 openings in Australia ($1.2 million from 221 screens), New Zealand, Denmark and possibly Russia and Ukraine. The cume for the costume drama stands at $22 million.

Fifth place went to 20th Century Fox International's "Lions For Lambs," which in its second weekend out drew an estimated $5.7 million from about 2,700 screens in 53 markets. The international cume for director Robert Redford's contemporary political drama, co-starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, stands at $19.7 million.

Early and incomplete returns for Eros International's "Om Shanti Om" and Sony's "Saawa-riya" — the pair of Bollywood features that topped the international chart the previous weekend — show both have dipped markedly in their second stanzas. Sony says "Saawariya" grossed an estimated $630,000 for the weekend at an undisclosed number of locations. "Om's" action in the U.K., where it ranked No. 9, is an estimated $540,000 from 51 screens for a market cume of about $2 million.