'Beowulf' keeps top o'seas post

'Enchanted' in auspicious debut as holiday entries heat up

The overseas pre-holiday parade is gaining momentum. "Enchanted," a Disney fairy tale, showed distinct promise as it opened No. 1 in seven out of eight debut markets following the film's $50 million five-day domestic blast over the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

As the year-end season approaches, the November entries, led by Warner Bros.' "Beowulf" and Universal's "American Gangster," are settling in for a piece of the action when holiday revelers say "let's go to a movie." In the past, November was seen as an inappropriate time to release a major film because audiences were too busy with Christmas preparations. But seasoned international distributors now contend that November is a great month that offers movie fans a chance to drop into multiplexes between shopping excursions at the malls.

For the second weekend in a row, the animated spectacle "Beowulf" captured top boxoffice honors in the international marketplace, recording an estimated $26 million from more than 5,400 prints in 43 markets. According to Warner Bros. Pictures International, the pop-culture version of the Old English epic poem directed by Robert Zemeckis ranked No. 1 in 20 out of 23 new openings and also showed holdover strength in Europe and Asia. Key openings included Russia ($4.2 million from 492 prints), Spain ($3.1 million from 450), France ($1.9 million from 481), Mexico ($1.9 million from 512). The estimated international cume has reached $48.4 million.

The Ridley Scott-directed "Gangster" finished second for a second straight weekend, taking in $10.8 million from 1,576 screens in 15 countries to lift its cume to $30.4 million. With new openings only in Norway ($492,019 from 36) and Sweden ($465,238 from 59), "Gangster" held strong in such key markets as the U.K., where it topped "Beowulf" for the No. 1 position for the second weekend in a row with a market cume of $11.7 million from 416 screens to "Beowulf's" $9.2 million from 487. Ditto Germany, where "Gangster" took in $5.5 million from 360 in two sessions to "Beowulf's" $3.6 million from 665.

As it entered the overseas fray, "Enchanted" delivered $7.8 million from 1,191 screens in eight territories. It arrived in Spain at the top of the boxoffice chart with $3.3 million from 350, but came in second to "Beowulf" in Russia with $2.4 million from 350. It was No. 1 in Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Israel, Colombia and Ecuador. It will be greeted this coming weekend by France, Switzerland, Portugal and Malaysia, with the weekend of Dec. 14 opening the gates for the U.K., France, Brazil and Mexico, followed by Germany. Japan is not scheduled until March 14.

Liongate's "Saw IV" seized the day with a No. 1 bow in France ($2.3 million from 197), leading the way to a $4.8 million weekend from 29 territories for a cume to date of $43.5 million.

"The Heartbreak Kid," which opened No. 1 in Australia ($1.7 million from 232), went on to take in $7.6 million over the weekend from 2,017 screens in 33 markets, lifting its cume to $62.3 million.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age," adding eight new markets to its release schedule, brought in $4.3 million from 1,694 screens in 20 markets to raise its cume $28.2 million.

"Ratatouille," still enjoying the feast, went over the $400 million mark ($402.6 million) as it gobbled up another $4.2 million over the weekend from 2,607 screens in 26 markets. It's being hailed as the sixth Disney title to cross the $400 million mark.

New market entries included 20th Century Fox's "Hitman," which made its debut in 12 small markets, including Egypt, Malaysia and Hungary, with a total of $1.3 million from 307 screens. It blasts off this coming weekend in the U.K., Mexico, Russia, South Korea and more.

"Lions for Lambs" hit a cume of $26 million as it brought in $4.3 million over the weekend from 2,453 screens in 45 markets.

"Stardust" reached $92.6 million as it picked up $2.4 million over the weekend from 1,387 screens in 32 countries.

More weekend action: "Resident Evil: Extinction," $2.3 million (cume: $90.2 million); "Surf's Up," $1.7 million (cume: $82.1 million); "Superbad," $675,000 (cume: $46.1 million); "The Kingdom," $1.8 million (cume: $33 million); "Michael Clayton," $1.3 million (cume: $26.6 million); "In the Valley of Elah," $385,000 (cume: $4.1 million).

Cume updates: "The Bourne Ultimatum," $196.6 million; "Rush Hour 3," $112.7 million; "Hairspray," $77.5 million; "Rendition," $8.3 million; "Mr. Woodcock," $5 million; "Shoot 'Em Up," $10.9 million; "Run Fat Boy Run; $22.2 million.

In Italy, two local films held the No. 1 and No. 2 positions: "Matrimonio Alle Bahamas" ($9.2 million in two weekends from 461 screens) and "Milano Palermo-Il Ritorno" (a $2 million opening from 246 screens).

In Korea, the top foreign film, "Beowulf," was No. 4 in its second weekend ($1.5 million from 159), "Saw IV" opened No. 5 with about $900,000 from 242 screens and "Golden Age" was sixth with about $630,000 from 227.

Mark Russell in Seoul contributed to this report.