'Despicable Me' Top Overseas Boxoffice With $26.5 Million Take

Animated film hits full stride offshore after 15 weeks due to a gradual rollout.

UPDATED 5:07 P.M. Monday, Oct. 18, 2010

Riding a wave of school holidays overseas, "Despicable Me" emerged at No. 1 on the foreign theatrical circuit over the weekend, generating $26.5 million -- $800,000 more than was projected on Sunday -- at 4,568 screens in 36 markets and raising its offshore gross total to $169.7 million.

Although the Universal release has been playing the foreign circuit for the last 15 weeks, the family-oriented 3D animation title voiced principally by Steve Carell is just now hitting full stride offshore due to its graduated rollout calibrated to school breaks among other factors.

Weekend openings in nine territories included No. 1 debuts in six, said Universal. "Reactions and word-of-mouth are positive, and school holidays are under way in most of these countries. So we are looking at long runs."

Nearly half the weekend tally came from the all-important U.K. market and from Italy. "Despicable" was No. 1 in the U.K. with a commanding $5.9 million drawn from 520 locations, Universal's fourth first-place market opening of 2010. A No. 2 Italy debut generated $4.9 million from 505 sites.

Holdovers included a No. 1 ranking for the third straight frame in Germany ($4.1 million in the third round at 809 sites for an 18-day market cume of $16.5 million). In France, the No. 2 weekend tallied $4.4 million from 657 locations for a 12-day total of $10.8 million. Spain provided a No. 1 ranking with $1.9 million from 374 venues for a 10-day total of $7.9 million.

"Despicable Me" passed the $400-million global gross benchmark on Saturday. Overseas, the film has 10 more markets yet to play including Portugal, which opens this week, and Belgium and Japan, which open the following round.

Finishing second was the prior weekend No. 1 title, Sony's "Eat Pray Love." This time the romantic drama starring Julia Roberts drew $13.3 million from 4,075 locations in 67 territories, hoisting its foreign gross total to $86.7 million. No. 1 openings in Indonesia and New Zealand augmented a solid first-place second round in Australia.

Third on the weekend was Sony's "The Social Network," which opened in at least five European territories for $12.97 million from 1,767 situations including 394 in the U.K. (where the film ranked No. 2 with $3.95 million). Director David Fincher's drama starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has grossed $17.5 million so far overseas.

Fourth was Warner Bros' "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," which drew $9.5 million from some 4,600 screens in 46 territories. Cume for director Zack Snyder's animation fantasy stands at $41.6 million. A second weekend No. 1 finish in Mexico yielded $1 million from 301 venues.

No. 5 was director Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," which grossed $7.2 million from 3,969 screens in 60 markets. The sequel starring Michael Douglas as financial miscreant Gordon Gekko opened No. 1 in China ($2.24 million, as per distributor 20th Century Fox, from 1,200 screens). Overseas cume stands at $49.5 million.

(Fox announced that it has grossed a company record of more than $2.5 billion in overseas box office from January through Oct. 17. Through September, the figure stood at $2.42 billion. The distributor's previous calendar year overseas record, $2.45 billion, was logged in 2009.)

"Resident Evil: Afterlife," via Sony and other distributors grossed $6.3 million. Sony's portion of the action was $4.13 million from 1,766 screens in 44 territories. Constantin Film's sci-fi/fantasy starring Milla Jovovich as a video-game heroine has grossed $207.4 million so far overseas.

Coming in at $6 million on the weekend from 1,675 screens, was Warner's "The Town," from director-star Ben Affleck. The Boston-area heist drama's international cume stands at $26.6 million. An Australia opening generated $2 million from 262 sites.

Still reigning No. 1 in Italy was Medusa Film's "Benvenuti Al Sud" ("Welcome to the South"), director Luca Miniero's interpretation of the smash French comedy, "Welcome to the Sticks." Third weekend at some 556 sites generated $5.5 million for a market cume of $23.7 million in 17 days.

Taking the weekend's No. 1 spot in France was director-scripter Luc Besson's "Arthur 3: la guerre des deux mondes" ("Arthur 3: The War of Two Worlds") distributed by Europa Corp. Distribution. The English-language animation, third installment of the "Arthur and the Minimoys" series, is voiced principally by Mia Farrow and Freddie Highmore. It drew $5.4 million in the opening round at 778 situations.

Yielding $4.6 million was Warner's romantic comedy "Life As We Know It" costarring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, which played 1,455 screens including openings in Russia, Mexico, Holland and Brazil. Early foreign cume stands at $7.4 million. Sony's cop caper "The Other Guys," costarring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, pushed its overseas cume to $33.7 million thanks to a $4.25 million weekend at 1,515 screens in 37 markets.

Fox's "Knight and Day" with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz scored a solid second round in Japan ($2.6 million from 590 spots for a market cume of $13.3 million), and drew $3.3 million overall on the weekend from 946 screens in Japan and Italy. Overseas cume for the action comedy stands at $171.6 million.

No. 5 in France was UGC Distribution's release of director Giles Paquet-Brenner's drama,"Elle s'appelait Sarah" ("She was Called Sarah"), starring Kristen Scott Thomas as a journalist investigating the death of a 10-year-old girl in 1942. Opening round at 325 screens generated $1.6 million.

Other international cumes: The Weinstein Co.'s "Piranha 3D," $25 million (after a $2.2 million weekend at 682 screens); Warner's "Inception," $521.7 million; Fox's "Vampires Suck," $35.8 million; Pixar/Disney's "Toy Story 3," $645.3 million (eighth biggest titled ever released overseas); Paramount's "The Last Airbender," $183.5 million; Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," $151.1 million; Universal's "Charlie St. Cloud," $10.6 million (after a $1.4 million weekend at 1,190 screens in 17 markets); Touchstone/Disney's "You Again," $3.3 million; Universal's "Devil," $12.3 million; DreamWorks/Paramount's "Dinner For Schmucks," $11.7 million; and Universal's "Senna," $612,224 over 10 days in Japan only.

Also, Sony's "Grown Ups," $105.5 million (after a $1.6 million weekend at 830 screens in 41 markets); Fox's "Avatar: Special Edition: $2.020 billion); Lionsgate's "Alpha and Omega," estimated $5 million; Fox's "Predators," $75 million; Mars Distribution's "Des homes et des dieux" (Of Gods and Men), $17.9 million over six rounds in France only; Lionsgate's "The Switch," estimated $14 million; and Fox's "Nosso Lar," $20.2 million in Brazil only.

And, Focus Features/Universal's "The American," $17.9 million; Universal's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," $13.8 million; Fox's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," $10.7 million; Universal's "Hanni und Nanni," $7 million from Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Paramount's "Made in Dagenham," $4 million in U.K. only; Fox's "Yaroslav," $714,983 in Russia debut at 551 locations; Summit/Universal/Disney's "Step Up 3D," $117.4 million; and Paramount's "Tomorrow When the War Began," $13.2 million in two markets.