Foreign Box Office: 'Guardians' Squeaks By as No. 1 Overseas

"Breaking Dawn 2" drops to third place; "Skyfall" bags more than $650 million while China propels "Life of Pi" past $100 million mark.

A listless preholiday stanza on the foreign theatrical circuit anointed DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians the weekend’s top box-office title with a relatively pallid gross of $26 million drawn from 58 overseas markets.

The offshore circuit will heat up considerably this coming week with Warner Bros.’ release of New Line/MGM’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, director Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic, which opens day-and-date with its domestic bow.

After four rounds on the foreign circuit, Guardians has accumulated a total offshore gross of $90.5 million. Although there were openings in Iceland, Israel and South Africa, the bulk of the weekend action came from holdover engagements in larger markets.

The Paramount release, a $145 million fantasy title featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, drew $3 million in its second France round from 665 locations, enough for a No. 1 ranking and an $8.4 million market cume. Guardians is duking it out with Skyfall for the No. 1 U.K. slot, claiming $2.6 million from 495 situations for a market cume of $6.5 million.

Mexico (No. 1 with $2.2 million in its second frame at 575 sites, cume $6.5 million) and Brazil ($2.1 million at 400 spots, cume $6.3 million over two rounds) were also muscular. Guardians takes off in Australia this week.

Breaking the $100 million foreign gross mark was 20th Century Fox’s release of Life of Pi, the film version of Yann Martel’s novel about a young castaway and a Bengal tiger. Overseas cume stands at $105.7 million after three stanzas.

Directed by Taiwanese-born Ang Lee, the Fox 2000 co-production drew $23.8 million on the weekend overall playing a total of 5,612 sites in 11 markets, the best of of which was China (No. 1 with $14.6 million in its third round at 4,000 sites for a market cume of $68.3 million). First-place finishes were also recorded in Spain, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

After three weekends atop the foreign box-office chart, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 from Summit/Lionsgate International finished No. 3, garnering $23.5 million from about 70 overseas markets. It remained No. 1 in Germany but took No. 3 in France and the U.K., No. 5 in South Korea and No. 12 in Russia.

The sequel’s overseas cume stands at $482.4 million, making the fifth and final title based on Stephenie Meyer’s series of novels about a young woman (Kristen Stewart) in love with a vampire (Robert Pattinson) the franchise’s all-time offshore box-office champ, beating last year’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1, which collected $430.9 million.

Finishing No. 4 was Sony/MGM’s Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise, which collected $20.3 million from 6,235 spots in 84 markets handled by Sony and licensees of co-distributor MGM.

The third outing starring Daniel Craig as 007 has collected a total foreign gross of $656.6 million, of which Sony-handled territories accounted for $571.1 million. Since its overseas opening Oct. 26, Skyfall has accumulated nearly $225 million more than the $432.2 total foreign gross of the previous franchise box-office recordholder, 2006’s Casino Royale, also starring Craig.

Skyfall retained its No. 1 Australia ranking for the third straight round with $4.8 million derived from 574 locations, lifting the market cume to $33.5 million. Japan provided $3.3 million at 578 sites for a market cume of $13.2 million over two rounds. After seven U.K. sessions, the market cume there stands at a humongous $154.5 million.

Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s 3D family animation title, held steady overseas as its sixth round in 26 territories generated $5.8 million. Foreign gross total comes to $51.1 million, while its worldwide take stands at $215.5 million.  

Australia provided a No. 2 market welcome to Universal’s rom-com/musical Pitch Perfect, which drew $3.6 million from 240 locations. Weekend overall came in with $3.9 million at 460 situations in nine territories, nudging the film’s early international gross total to $8.8 million. Openings in Germany and the U.K. are due later this month.

Sony Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, a comedy voiced by Adam Sandler and Kevin James about a boy who discovers Dracula is real, grossed $3.6 million at 2,940 sites in 61 markets. A No. 1 Singapore opening generated $540,000 from 43 screens. The title’s foreign gross total stands at $157.8 million.

Universal’s release of Anna Karenina opened in 13 markets on the weekend, including No. 8 bows in France and in Germany. Weekend as a whole took in $2.6 million at a total of 740 playdates in 16 territories. Overseas cume stands at $14.3 million.

Other international cumes: Universal’s The Man With the Iron Fists, $2.4 million; Universal’s Playing for Keeps, $2 million opener at 552 playdates in Russia; Universal’s Ted, $283.1 million with a Japan opening due Jan. 18; and Focus Features/Universal’s Moonrise Kingdom, $20 million.