'Hogs' No. 1 as 'Spidey' looms

Comic-book hero taking over in more than 100 markets

In what international distributors called one of the slowest weekends they've ever experienced, Buena Vista International's "Wild Hogs" narrowly beat Universal Pictures International's "Mr. Bean's Holiday" for the No. 1 spot at the overseas boxoffice, $7.5 million to $7.4 million.

The slowdown was attributed to the arrival of the first of the summer tentpoles, Sony's "Spider-Man 3," which takes off today in 18 countries, including in such major markets as France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea. By the end of the coming weekend, the third film adaptation of the Marvel Comics' superhero will be in some 100 markets.

Most of the drained weekend action, also depressed by the continuing unseasonably warm weather in Europe, came mainly from holdovers, as most rival distributors failed to bow any new entry. "This is the first time we've had nothing opening on a weekend," said one major studio international executive.

Only Initial Entertainment Group squeezed in dates via territorial distributors over the past weekend for the indie Nicolas Cage-Julianne Moore sci-fi thriller "Next," which managed to narrowly grab third place in the weekend standings with an estimated $5.3 million from 10 markets. "Next" opened No. 1 in the U.K. with a satisfactory $1.6 million from 365 prints. It also topped the boxoffice charts in France ($1.4 million from 400 screens), Belgium ($145,483 from 43) and Turkey ($279,890 from 80).

But "Next" has no intention of going up against "Spidey." "We do not have any openings (this coming weekend) -- everybody is steering clear of 'Spider-Man 3," said Eric Christenson, Initial's sales and distribution president, "but we will have some additional openings in smaller territories starting May 10, with rollouts continuing over the summer."

With major company offices closed in many European and Latin American markets because of May 1 holidays, weekend results are for the most part estimated. But the coming weekend's Golden Week in Japan, a collection of four national holidays over a seven-day period -- an emperor's birthday, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children's Day -- should prove to be major boon for the opening of Sony's new "Spider-Man."

In taking over first place over the weekend, "Wild Hogs" regained the No. 1 spot it held briefly the previous weekend before a final count saw "Mr. Bean's Holiday" beat it out at the Sunday-night finish line. "Hogs" held the No. 2 spot in the U.K. at its third weekend, showing a total gross of $8.1 million for the period. A second weekend in Germany brought in $1.7 million for a market score to date of $5.3 million. BVI is preparing to unleash its tentpole, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" on May 25.

Except for openings in Bulgaria and Romania, the "Mr. Bean" slapstick comedy depended on holdovers, holding No. 1 in France for a second weekend on 500 screens for an early market cume of $4.6 million. At its fifth weekend in the U.K., the Rowan Atkinson-created character tallied $1 million from 448 screens for a market take of $40.4 million, passing the U.K.'s market total of the first "Mr. Bean."

Paramount Pictures' action drama "Shooter," starring Mark Wahlberg as a marksman called in to foil a plot to kill the president, tallied $5.2 million from 2,092 screens in 46 markets to lift its foreign gross to $27.9 million. The film opened No. 2 in Korea (behind local entry "Paradise Murdered," $1.9 million from 313 screens), with $1.1 million from 149. It held the No. 2 spot in Australia for a second weekend with $807,068 from 188 screens for a market cume of $2.8 million.

Sony's mystery thriller "Perfect Stranger," starring Bruce Willis and Halle Berry, picked up an estimated $5 million over the weekend from 2,890 screens in 56 markets, all from holdovers. The international cume has reached $28.7 million.

Warner Bros. Pictures' horror offering "The Reaping" took in an estimated $3.9 million from 2,320 prints in 46 markets to provide a foreign cume to date of $27.1 million. Turkey bowed to about $190,000 from 71 prints. At the same time, Warners' long-running violent Greek epic, "300," also pulled in $3.9 million from 3,600 prints in 58 markets, hoisting its international cume to $224.1 million. The Zack Snyder-directed actioner held on to the No. 1 spot for a fifth straight week in Brazil, grossing $558,000 from 424 prints for a market cume of $10.1 million.

20th Century Fox's "Epic Movie" took in $2.2 million, opening No. 1 in Italy with $1.6 million from 250 screens. Meanwhile, Fox's sci-fi entry from director Danny Boyle, "Sunshine," went up to $2.6 million as it delivered $2.5 million from 47 markets over the weekend.

New Line's drama thriller starring Jim Carrey, "Number 23," raised $1.2 million over the weekend, debuting No. 4 in Australia with $609,863 from 113 screens. The overseas cume has hit $28.6 million.

Paramount Pictures' "Disturbia," playing in six markets, took in $1.1 million from 530 screens to boost the cume to $5.4 million, with the major key markets still to come.

Updated cumes: "Norbit," $61.1 million; "Charlotte's Web," $60.7 million; "Hot Fuzz," $48.9 million; "The Good Shepherd," $17.9 million; "The Holiday," $140.3 million; "Music & Lyrics," $88.6 million; "Happy Feet," $186.1 million; and "Blood Diamond," $111.7 million.