'Bourne' grabs top o'seas post

Summer business holding up as 4 pics top $10 million each

Sitting on the sidelines for most of the summer as rival tentpoles dominated international playing time, Universal Pictures International, led by "The Bourne Ultimatum," started to blossom this month with a lineup that includes "Knocked Up," "Evan Almighty" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry."

Although the usual slowdown is taking place in the final days of August, weekend business was relatively lively at overseas multiplexes as four holdover tentpoles earned more than $10 million each: "Bourne," $14.2 million; "Ratatouille," $11.8 million; "The Simpsons Movie," $11.6 million; and "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix," $10.3 million.

As it made its end-of-season run at 2,100 screens in 25 markets, "Bourne" raised its international gross to $54.8 million. UPI noted that the Matt Damon thriller still has 30 more territories to open in the next three months, including Australia this weekend, Mexico (Sept. 7), France (Sept. 12) and Japan (Nov. 30).

Over the weekend, "Bourne" bowed No. 1 in Russia ($2.8 million from 392 screens); topped the boxoffice chart in the U.K. for a second weekend, with $5.8 million from 454 screens for a 10-day total of $27.5 million; took a 47% market share of the New Zealand boxoffice as it opened No. 1 with $605,000 from 55; and raised its cume in Spain to $8.4 million in 13 days after a weekend gross of $1.5 million from 351.

Holdover business for "Ratatouille" drop-ped only 34% over the weekend as the Disney/Pixar animated entry took in $11.8 million from 2,780 screens in 27 countries to raise its international cume to $172.2 million. In France, scene of the culinary accomplishments of the homegrown rat-chef, the cartoon held the No. 1 post for the fourth straight weekend, tallying $5.6 million from 737 playdates for a market cume of $44.4 million. In Japan, "Ratatouille" has been among the top 5 boxoffice performers for five weeks in a row, taking in $1.3 million in its fifth session for a market cume of $27 million.

According to Disney International, the film still has 50% of its markets to play, with Australia, Greece and South Africa coming up in September, the U.K., Italy and Scandinavia in October, and China in December.

20th Century Fox's "Simpsons," a market leader for four weeks in a row, continued to hold strong, bringing in $11.6 million from 6,145 screens in 43 markets for an international gross of $289.8 million. Its only weekend opening was in Korea, where Homer and Marge delivered $966,000 from 171 screens. In five weeks in the U.K., "Simpsons" is up to $72.6 million following a $1.4 million weekend. The same period in France delivered $25.2 million after a $1.5 million weekend. It has been No. 1 for five weeks in a row in Finland, grossing $3.8 million to date. "Simpsons" has three dates to go before winding up its run: Greece (Aug. 31), Italy (Sept. 14) and Japan in March.

As it hit $617 million in its seventh weekend of overseas release, Warner Bros. Pictures' "Phoenix" set several new marks: It became the highest-grossing Warners release in Latin America; surpassed the overseas gross of "Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban ($546 million) and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" ($606 million); and has equalled the final tally of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($617 million). The weekend take came to $10.3 million from 5,400 prints in 58 markets.

The only weekend opening was in Greece, which Warners said greeted the newest "Potter" at No. 1 ($1.7 million from 120 prints) despite an overall drop in business because of devastating wildfires raging in the country. Harry and friends ranked No. 1 in Japan for a sixth straight weekend, scoring $1.9 million from 615 prints for a market cume of $68.4 million. China tallied $1.1 million from 480 in its third weekend for a market cume of $16.1 million to date.

UPI's prospects brightened over the weekend as the distributor called attention to its 52% share of the weekend U.K. boxoffice thanks to the 1-2 punch of "Bourne" and "Knocked Up." Altogether, "Knocked Up" grossed $6.9 million over the weekend from 1,594 dates in 13 countries, raising its early international cume to $25.5 million. The comedy about an unplanned pregnancy opened No. 1 in Germany, with $2.1 million from 586 screens; the U.K. delivered $3.1 million from 423 and Mexico $388,000 from 181. The film, which will be screened at the Deauville Film Festival this coming weekend, is scheduled to open in Brazil and the Netherlands in September and in France in October.

"Evan Almighty," Universal's disappointing earlier tentpole, is beginning to take hold as August comes to a close. It was No. 1 in Spain ($1.8 million from 317), Hong Kong ($512,000 from 30) and South Africa ($200,000 from 71). The film's weekend total came to $5.4 million from 2,496 screens in 25 territories, lifting the foreign cume to $25.5 million. The Steve Carell starrer is set to open in 15 more markets, including Australia on Sept. 20.

Because of a bank holiday in the U.K., many boxoffice figures are estimated and full reports unavailable.

Other weekend finishes saw "Rush Hour 3" take in an estimated $5.1 million (cume: $36.8 million), "Die Hard 4.0" $2.7 million (cume: $220.2 million), "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," $2.8 million (cume: $138.6 million), "Surf's Up, $3.1 million (cume: $32 million) and "Chuck & Larry," $1.4 million (cume: $7.4 million).

Cume updates: "Transformers," $365.3 million; "Shrek the Third," $417.3 million; "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $181 million; "Disturbia," $14.8 million.