'Ghost' rides to $15.5 mil overseas


Sony Pictures Releasing International's "Ghost Rider" matched its domestic No. 1 opening this weekend with a first place debut overseas, grossing an estimated $15.5 million from 1,871 screens in 24 territories.

The Mark Steven Johnson film -- starring Nicolas Cage and based on a Marvel Comics character who sells his soul to the devil -- topped 21 of 24 debut markets reporting. The action-fantasy's combined domestic-international opening weekend gross comes to an impressive $60 million.

"Ghost Rider" is not the only potent new entry to emerge in the international market this weekend. Universal International bowed in the U.K. and Ireland "Hot Fuzz" a cop-thriller spoof co-produced by Studio Canal and Britain's Working Title Films, and garnered a combined $11.6 million (including previews) from 422 screens (for a mighty per-screen average of $27,488).

The U.K.-Ireland gross alone qualifies "Hot Fuzz" as the No. 3 title overseas this weekend.

Universal International calls the opening of the comedy -- about a London cop who gets transferred to a small town and paired with a clueless partner - "stunning." It's the biggest opening weekend of 2007 so far in the all-important U.K. market, and the distributor's fifth biggest opening weekend ever in the U.K. after "Bridget Jones 2" ($20 million), the remake of "King Kong" ($13.5 million), "Love Actually" ($12.9 million) and "Hannibal" ($12.4 million).

Universal also introduced overseas this weekend "The Good Shepherd" fresh from a Silver Bear award from the just-concluded Berlin Film Festival citing "outstanding artistic contribution" for the film's ensemble cast headed by Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. The spy drama directed by Robert DeNiro (who also co-stars) garnered an estimated $1.8 million from 396 screens in Germany, Austria, Australia and New Zealand.

Another international newcomer is Paramount Pictures International/Dreamworks' "Norbit," which bowed domestically last weekend. The Eddie Murphy comedy grabbed an estimated $527,000 from 100 screens in Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore. Worldwide cume stands at nearly $60 million.

"Ghost Rider" rode to the top spot on the basis of powerful bows in Russia (an estimated $3.4 million from 400 screens, 18th biggest opening weekend ever in the market), Spain ($3 million from 415 sites), Mexico ($2 million from 400 situations) and Australia ($1.9 million from 208 screens).

On a per-screen average basis, Asian territories and "the Middle East group" were especially generous to "Ghost Rider."

In Taiwan, the average was $12,500 per screen from 120 locations. In Malaysia, the PSA was $12,666 from 60 sites. In Singapore, the average came to $18,125 from 40 situations. In the Philippines, the PSA came to $13,200 from 50 spots. In the "Middle East group" -- nine markets including the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt -- the per screen average logged in at $15,745 from 47 situations.

Placing second overall this weekend is 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum," the No. 1 title overseas for six of the last seven weekends. This weekend's estimate is $13.8 million from about 5,000 screens in 46 markets, raising "Museum's" international gross total to $250 million.

The Ben Stiller comedy opened strongly in Hong Kong, an estimated $1.6 million from 46 screens, for a muscular per-screen average of $34,783. Including previews, that tally is the all-time second biggest for distributor Fox in the Hong Kong market.

"Museum" also opened in China ($1 million from 600 situations), Belgium ($900,000 from 85 sites, for a $10,588 per screen average) and placed No. 1 in Holland ($544,000 from 100 locales). Biggest of the holdover markets was France, where in its second weekend "Museum" captured an estimated $3.5 million from 676 screens, placing third after French-language "Taxi 4" and Olivier Dahan's "La Vie En Rose," a film biography of chanteuse Edith Piaf.

Placing fourth this weekend is Warner Bros. International's "Blood Diamond," starring Oscar-nominated Leonardo Di Caprio, which grossed an estimated $8.6 million from about 3,500 screens in 59 markets. International total to date stands at $78.1 million.

In fifth spot is Sony's "Pursuit of Happyness," which pulled an estimated $7.7 million from 2,900 screens in 50 territories. Just last Saturday, the Will Smith vehicle passed the $100-million gross mark overseas. Cume now stands at $104 million.

WBI's "Music & Lyrics" raised its overseas cume to $14.2 million this weekend thanks to an estimated $6.8 million gross from about 1,000 screens in eight markets. The Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore comedy, which opened domestically this weekend in the No. 4 slot, had strong bows in Australia, Taiwan, Greece and New Zealand. Worldwide gross total stands at $33.7 million.

Fox's "Rocky Balboa" pulled an estimated $4.9 million on the weekend from 2,300 screens in 29 markets handled by Fox (excluding Scandinavia, which is handled by other distributors. Total overseas cume (including Scandinavian markets) is $65 million. PPI/Paramount's "Charlotte's Web" lifted its overseas cume to $44 million thanks to an estimated $6 million this weekend from 2,075 sites in 45 markets.

Other Oscar-related titles: Dreamworks/PPI's "Dreamgirls," grossing an estimated $3.7 million from 1,331 screen in 26 territories including Japan where the musical bowed No. 1 in the market with an estimated $1.7 million from 288 spots for an overall international total to date of $19.2 million; and Fox Searchlight/DNA's "Notes on a Scandal," $2.4 million from 450 screens in 10 markets for an overseas cume of $9 million.

Also, Summit Ent./PPI-Vantage's "Babel," which grossed an estimated $1.3 million from 660 screen in 14 markets, for a PPI cume of $34.6 million; and Fox's "The Last King of Scotland," an estimated $1.8 million from 600 sites in 36 territories, for a cume of $12.8 million.

Fox's satirical comedy, "Epic Movie," scored an estimated $2.5 million from 700 locations in a dozen markets (for a cume of $14.1 million) while Universal's "The Holiday" continued to chug along, grabbing $2 million from 950 screens in 35 territories, raising its international total to $124.3 million.

Other overseas cume updates: Universal's "Smokin' Aces," $11.8 million; Fox's "Eragon," $167.2 million; Lionsgate's "Saw III," $74.7 million; Fox's "Little Miss Sunshine," $34.5 million; and Lionsgate's "Employee of the Month," $7 million.

(Grosses for films from Disney/Buena Vista Int'l. were not available by presstime. Also, Warner Bros. International did not provide updates for "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers.")