'Horton' holds tight as market dips

Local films make waves before May tentpoles take over

As the market awaits a barrage of tentpoles starting in May, "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" remained the favorite of overseas moviegoers for a third week in a row, scoring $9.1 million from 4,707 screens in 56 markets to lift its international cume to $104.9 million.

Major studios, in the meanwhile, are rushing in a number of new flicks to take advantage of the open weeks before the summer deluge. The gambling film "21" caught the fancy of foreign card sharps as it raked in $8.2 million from 572 screens in six markets in its opening round.

Two French titles, "Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis" and "Disco," maintained their holds in the local market and figured as well in the international totals, with "Ch'tis" taking in $7.7 million in its seventh weekend and "Disco," which dropped 44% at its second weekend, tallying $5.1 million.

Along with "Horton," family fare is still in the forefront in a declining market as spring school holidays slowly fade in scattered markets around the globe. "The Spiderwick Chronicles" took in $4 million from 1,836 screens in 43 countries (cume: $69.6 million), while "The Game Plan" added $3.1 million from 1,424 screens in 13 markets (cume: $47.4 million). The Jodie Foster starrer "Nim's Island," the newest family adventure to hit foreign shores, earned $4.7 million at its second weekend from 974 screens in seven markets (cume: $5.8 million). The teen-appeal film "Step Up 2 the Streets" danced to almost $5 million from 1,836 screens in 29 markets (cume: $69.6 million).

Among other newcomers, "Leatherheads" found a weak overseas reception in the U.K., opening at No. 6 with $862,000 from 302 screens. The George Clooney film did better in Italy, where it came in third with $1.2 million from 218 dates. The film's overall weekend take came to $2.2 million, lifting its two-weekend cume to $2.4 million.

Also making its overseas debut, "Street Kings," the cop thriller starring Keanu Reeves and Forrest Whitaker, captured $1.2 million from 227 screens in 23 markets. It opened at No. 1 in several Asian markets but is primed to make its big push this coming weekend when it's set to open in 27 markets, including the U.K., Germany, Australia, Russia, Mexico and Brazil.

Also getting started overseas is the slasher update "Prom Night," which opened day-and-date with Australia, which greeted the Sony release with a No. 3 opening ($840,000 from 123).

"Horton's" weekend was highlighted by openings in Poland, Greece, Czech/Slovakia, Israel and Romania, and a $3.1 million second weekend in France, only a 6% drop (market cume: $8 million). Other market cumes to date include $14.7 million in four weeks in the U.K.; $12.6 million in five in Germany; and $7.8 million in four in Australia.

While declines in most markets are evident at this time of year, France is holding up remarkably well thanks to that astounding "Ch'tis," which only declined 1% in its seventh weekend. To date, it has taken in $177.6 million from France alone, with French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland contributing $8.6 million and $4.1 million, respectively.

"Disco" fell to No. 2, but a new French offering, "Les Randonneurs a Saint-Tropez," opened at No. 4 behind "Horton" with $1.8 million from 520 screens.

The period before the start of the summer blockbusters also offers opportunities for local films around the world. In Mexico, Sony introduced the Mexican film "Casa Divas" in the home market to $854,000 from 350 screens. The Chinese film "Three Kingdoms" has tallied $4.8 million in Korea in two weekends from 274 screens. In Germany, local film "Die Welle" was No. 2 after five weeks during which it has taken in $16.4 million. In Spain, "Fuera de Carta" opened No. 2 behind "21" with $1.5 million from 231 screens. In Italy, "Tutta La Vita Davanti" has scored $4.7 million in three weeks.

As "21" dealt its cards, it opened at No. 1 in six markets, with the U.K. anteing up $3.3 million from 358 screens; Germany, $2.1 million from 296; and Spain, $2 million from 251.

Paramount's "The Spiderwick Chronicles" held the No. 1 post in Australia with $92,584 from 269 screens for a market cume of $3.6 million.

"Cloverfield" held the No. 1 position in Japan for a second week, with a total weekend take of $1.6 million from 251 screens in seven markets, raising its international cume to $84.2 million. Also in Japan, "Enchanted" took in another $1.1 million from 525 screens to raise its market cume to $25.6 million and its international gross to $209.4 million.

More weekend action: "Shutter" $3.2 million (cume: $6.9 million); "Vantage Point," $2.7 million (cume: $72.7 million); "27 Dresses," $1.9 million (cume: $69 million); "Jumper," $2.1 million (cume: $128.6 million); "Meet the Spartans," $1.3 million (cume: $27.9 million); "Definitely Maybe," $1.7 million (cume: $15.7 million); "Drillbit Taylor," $1.5 million (cume: $11.4 million); and "Never Back Down," $1.6 million (cume: $6.3 million).

Updated cumes: "Semi-Pro," $7.6 million; "Martian Child," $1 million; "Shoot 'Em Up," $12.5 million; "The Golden Compass," $291.6 million (vs. domestic's $70.1 million); "Juno," $78.3 million; and "There Will Be Blood," $33.9 million.