Food, horror whet overseas appetite

'Ratatouille' No. 1 at 4th weekend; 'Saw IV' bows in 2nd

A usually slow period at the overseas boxoffice showed unexpected spark as "Ratatouille" dominated the international market for the fourth weekend in a row, pulling in $22.5 million from 4,197 screens in 26 countries. The Disney/Pixar animated family offering, which started out as a summer picture in Latin America and Asia, kept up a sizzling pace as it moved to Europe in the early fall. It has reached an international cume of $348.1 million and become the 10th most popular film ever released by Disney outside of North America.

At the same time, fears that the horror genre may be dissipating were assuaged as Lionsgate's "Saw IV" scared up $12.3 million from 1,600 screens in 15 territories in a day-and-date bow with domestic.

Also showing surprising boxoffice strength is Paramount's fantasy romance "Stardust," which delivered $10.5 million from 2,265 screens in 30 markets. The cume, sparked by key dates in France, Spain and Japan, went up to $60 million and helped to make up for a disappointing U.S. outing.

Rounding out the top five U.S. films were Sony's animated "Surf's Up," with $4.2 million for a cume of $64.4 million, and the Sony/Summit Entertainment split release "Resident Evil," which took in an estimated $3.5 million for a cume of about $54.9 million.

This year's early-fall span leading up to the arrival of high-profile U.S. films during November and December has been especially welcome to local-language films in home markets.

The Spanish-language film "The Orphanage" (El Orfanato), distributed by Warner Bros. Spain, remained No. 1 in the home market for a third straight weekend, scoring $4 million from 373 prints for a market cume of $20.4 million. In Germany, Constantin's "Lissi & Der Wilde Kaiser" took the No. 1 post with $4.7 million from 782 screens. In France, the weekend's top-grossing film was "Les Cours des Hommes 2," which was welcomed with $3.9 million from 517 screens. In Italy, three local films were among the top five after "Ratatouille" and "Die Hard 4.0" (which entered the market with $1.9 million from 427 screens, lifting its foreign cume to $240.6 million). In Japan, "Crows: Episode 0" opened at No. 1 to $3.5 million from 200 screens. "Hero" came in at No. 2 at its eighth week in release and has accumulated $66.8 million to date. In Korea, four of the top five films are of local origin, with "Resident Evil 3" at No. 4 in its second weekend with a market total of $2.9 million. In the Netherlands, three Dutch titles were among the four top-grossing films, with three productions accounting for 51% of the total national boxoffice revenue of last weekend.

"Ratatouille," No. 1 in the U.K. for a fourth weekend, tallied $7.4 million from 527 screens for a market cume of $25.5 million; Italy's second weekend brought in $4.9 million for a market gross of $15 million; and Germany's fourth weekend delivered $3.9 million for a cume of $34.6 million. Other market cumes include France, $60.4 million; Japan, $32.7 million; Spain, $19.7 million; Australia, $12.1 million; and Mexico, $16.1 million.

"Saw IV" opened to $5.1 million from 391 screens in the U.K. (No. 2); $2.7 million from 300 in Spain (No. 2); and $1.7 million from 238 in Australia (No. 1).

A five-day opening in France gave "Stardust" $1.1 million from 345 screens. Three days in Spain delivered $1.1 million from 235 screens, and two days in Japan resulted in $656,113 from 241.

"Surf's Up" opened No. 2 in France ($2 million from 627 screens) and No. 2 in Brazil ($1 million from 235).

Another Sony entry, "Superbad" supplied $2.5 million from 1,400 screens in 35 markets, raising its cume to $35.8 million.  DreamWorks/Paramount's "The Heartbreak Kid," getting ready for a 10-country opening this coming weekend (including Germany and Mexico), provided $2.1 million over the weekend from 912 screens in 11 countries (cume: $21.9 million).

20th Century Fox's "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising," also trying to make up for a domestic disappointment, came up with $3.1 million from 1,967 screens in 32 markets for an international cume to date of $11 million.

"Michael Clayton" is estimated to have taken in $2.7 million over the weekend. Openings included Belgium ($172,000 from 36 screens), Holland ($118,000 from 25) and Norway ($66,000 from eight screens). The cume has reached $17.1 million.

More weekend action: "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," almost $2 million from a single No. 3 bow in Italy; "The Brave One," $2 million (cume: $27.5 million); "The Kingdom" $1.9 million (cume: $19.1 million); and Disney's "The Game Plan," No. 1 for a third weekend in Mexico and a market cume of $5.2 million. "Game Plan" will expand this coming weekend.

Cume updates: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," $19.1 million; "Evan Almighty," $71.4 million; "Knocked Up," $63.9 million; "The Bourne Ultimatum," $184.9 million; and "Disturbia," $36.3 million.

Ab Zagt in Amsterdam contributed to this report.