Dragons soar above o'seas b.o.


20th Century Fox's effects-laden dragon tale "Eragon" flew high on the back of openings in 76 territories over the weekend, taking in $30.1 million from 6,195 prints and unseating spy thriller "Casino Royale" as the No. 1 choice of the overseas audience after holding the spot four weeks in a row.

The 21st James Bond opus took in $20.7 million from 7,000 screens in 64 markets to lift its international gross to $280 million and become the biggest 007 contributor ever, topping "Die Another Day's" $271 million.

According to Fox, "Eragon" arrived No. 1 in 32 markets and No. 2 in six others. Spain was "Eragon's" most ardent fan, putting up $4.2 million, followed by Germany, $3.9 million; the U.K., $2.6 million; Mexico, $2.3 million; Russia, $2.1 million; Australia, $1.7 million; and Thailand, $1.1 million.

"Casino Royale," meanwhile, has held the No. 1 spot for four straight weeks in Denmark, Finland, Holland and Switzerland. Australia and New Zealand each has embraced Bond in the No. 1 position for two weeks in a row. The U.K. has donated $85.2 million in five weeks; Germany, $37.7 million in four; France, $30.9 million in four; and Spain and Australia, $10.4 million each over four weeks.

As a batch of diversified U.S. films settle in for the final lap of 2006, there are indications that many of them will face strong competition from local-language films, particularly in France, Italy, Japan and Korea, where homegrown offerings dominated the weekend boxoffice as they gear up for the holiday season.

A plus for the U.S. contenders, however, has been the arrival of Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy "The Holiday," which took in $14 million from 2,536 screens in 28 countries in its second weekend to provide an early foreign cume of $28.2 million. "Holiday's" business was steady if not spectacular in 18 new bows. The Cameron Diaz-Kate Winslet starrer arrived No. 2 in the U.K. with $3 million from 431 screens; earned $2.2 million from 534 in Germany; and $2 million from 242 in Korea.

Warner Bros.' "Happy Feet" and Paramount/DreamWorks' "Flushed Away" led the weekend animation parade, with the dancing penguins taking in $13 million from 5,850 prints in 39 markets and the London rat collecting $8.7 million from 37 markets. "Happy Feet's" international cume has reached $60 million while "Flushed Away" has now earned $47.3 million.

Buena Vista actioner "Deja Vu," also positioned for a holiday run, picked up $8.4 million from 2,271 screens in 18 countries and raised its cume to $22 million. Openings included the U.K. ($2.1 million from 362 screens) France ($1.8 million from 447), Italy ($1.4 million from 271), Russia ($561,000 from 180) and Belgium (435,000 from 42). In Spain, "Deja Vu" has taken in $7.5 million in 17 days.

Martin Scorsese crime drama "The Departed" reached a cume of $108.9 million after a $4.5 million weekend on 2,050 screens in 46 markets. Boxoffice revenue to date for "Departed" shows $23.8 million from the U.K., $11 million each from Spain and Italy, $9.5 million from France and $8.6 million from Australia.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" dusted off another $2.2 million from 1,291 screens in 24 countries to bring its international gross to $108.8 million.

Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima" remained No. 1 for a second weekend in that market, grossing $3.1 million from 401 prints nationwide and showing only a 25% drop from the opening session. Meanwhile, Eastwood's English-language take on the pivotal battle, "Flags of Our Fathers," has reached an estimated cume to date of $22.7 million. That film is still set for release in Norway, Spain, Hong Kong, Germany and Mexico.

The impact of local films on the holiday market is particularly evident in France, where seven of the top 10 films are homegrown productions. Luc Besson's animated family offering "Arthur and the Invisibles" leads the market with a whopping $11.2 million from 956 screens, followed by Pierre Salvadori's comedy "Hors de prix," with $3.4 million from 443. U.S. films "Deja Vu" ($1.7 million from 447), "Happy Feet" ($1.6 million from 830) and "Casino Royale" ($1.4 million from 663) take the third, fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

In Italy, Neri Parenti's comedy "Natale a New York" is No. 1 with $4.8 million from 518 screens, followed by "Ole" with almost $2 million. "Deja Vu" is third with $1.4 million, followed by "Happy Feet" ($1.6 million) and "Casino Royale" ($1.4 million).

In Korea, the homegrown "Beauty" led the boxoffice chart with $4.8 million from 473 screens, with Universal's "The Holiday" in second with $2 million from 242. Three other Korean films made the top six.

In Japan, Fox's "Eragon" followed "Letters From Iwo Jima," while the remaining films among the top six were of local origin.

In China, Zhang Yimou's "Curse of the Golden Flower" broke boxoffice records, opening to a four-day take of $12.5 million from 826 screens. The film, China's submission for the best foreign-language Oscar, opens Thursday in New York via Sony Pictures Classics.