Bond drum keeps up hard beat

$67 million weekend for 'Casino'

Amid a glut of films -- including a batch of animated entries, holiday-geared family fare, and Oscar hopefuls -- seeking a foothold for the final lap of the 2006 season, the 27th James Bond offering, "Casino Royale," easily dominated the overseas market for a second weekend, taking in a robust $67 million from 6,600 screens in 50 markets to lift it over $100 million ($129.2 million) in two weekends. Distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International hailed an 18-country bow as the sixth-biggest b.o. take of 2006 and as 41% bigger than the previous Bond picture, "Die Another Day." The film winds its way to Japan this coming weekend.

The marketplace is so crowded, said a major company international executive, that "if a film doesn't get quick attention, it'll fall by the wayside because there are so many other movies waiting in the wings." For many films receiving modest boxoffice receptions at this time, their only possible salvation, he added, would be Oscar nominations of sorts.

As the 007 franchise took the No. 1 post in all 50 markets in which it played over the weekend, including 18 new openings, Warner Bros. Pictures' family animated offering "Happy Feet," which is running ahead of "Casino" in North America, is getting ready for a major overseas thrust after opening No. 1 in eight territories this past weekend. The dancing penguins, which took in $4 million from 750 screens in eight markets, headed by Brazil's $838,000 from 311, is set to open in Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland and the U.K. in the next two weekends, followed by a Christmas-week splash in Russia, Hong Kong, Korea and Australia.

The Walt Disney Co., via Buena Vista International, is placing heavy holiday bets on "Deja Vu," the Denzel Washington sci-fi action thriller. The Tony Scott-directed and Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film got off to a promising start with a No. 1 bow in Mexico ($1 million from 400 screens) and is set to open almost everywhere from mid-December to the of the month, with the exception of Korea and Australia in January and Japan in March.

The weekend Bond bonanza was headed by Germany, which contributed a 64% market share with $12.5 million from 1,180 screens. France followed with $9 million from 792; and Spain, $4 million from 500. Scandinavia, always a popular market for Bond films, delivered $2.6 million from Denmark, $2.3 million from Sweden, $1.8 million from Norway and $794,000 from Finland. Key holdover market the U.K. furnished $16.3 million from 989 screens on its second weekend for a market cume to date of $53.3 million.

There seems to be a lot of life left in offensive-but-laughable "Borat," with the Sacha Baron Cohen controversial opus pulling in $14.2 million from 2,361 screens in 31 markets to reach an international cume of $82.6 million. The biggest welcome came from Australia, with $4.6 million from 292 screens. The best holdover market was the U.K., where "Borat" rested in second place in its fourth weekend with $2.7 million from 424 and a market cume of $40.2 million. Four weeks in Germany brought in $11 million.

Among other films making the offshore rounds for a number of weeks, Martin Scorsese's crime drama "The Departed" supplied another $7 million from 42 markets, arriving in Korea with $1.7 million from 180 prints; in Greece, $766,500 from 62, and in Turkey, $337,000 from 69. The international cume has reached $79.1 million.

Lionsgate's "Saw III," playing in 25 territories over the weekend, racked up $5.6 million from about 2,630 screens. It arrived No. 3 in France with $2.6 million from 202, said to be 48% better than the performance of "Saw II" in the market. The cume has reached $42.2 million.

Fifth-best weekend boxoffice honors went to Sony's animated "Open Season," which took in $4.2 million from 3,400 screens in 50 markets to lift its cume to $76.6 million. "Season" is digging in for the hopeful avalanche of family trade during the holiday festivities.

Also setting up for the holiday run is Disney's "Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," which took in $3.4 million from seven markets, with the U.K. providing a third-place $2.4 million (from 375 screens) opening, beating the first of the series by 40% and the second by 50%, according to distributor BVI. Also on BVI's holiday radar is a 3D version of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," which is destined for seven markets with the necessary technological equipment -- the U.K., Germany, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Australia and Korea.

Fox's holiday aspirant, the Danny DeVito-Matthew Broderick starrer "Deck the Halls," found little cheer as it stumbled into six markets with $693,000, arriving No. 7 in Australia with $207,676 from 153 screens.

UIP's gross-out film "Jackass Number Two" found $1.8 million over the weekend from eight countries to provide a cume of $28.9 million.

"The Devil Wears Prada" hit an enviable international gross of $181 million as its long run peters out, taking in $3.2 million over the weekend from 1,663 screens in 16 markets. The Meryl Streep starrer grossed $1.3 million in its second weekend in Japan for a market total to date of $5.6 million.

More weekend action: "Barnyard" (cume: $28.9 million) took in $1.8 million from 1,329 screens; "Babel" (cume: $16.5 million), $2.1 million from 756 screens; "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (cume: $85.9 million), $2.4 million from 536 screens; and "The Good Year" (cume: $16.3 million), $2 million from 1,555 screens.