'HSM3' packs aisles overseas

Musical earns $40 mil from 3,050 screens in 22 markets

The theatrical debut of Disney's "High School Musical" franchise kicked off the international circuit's holiday season in melodic No. 1 fashion, garnering weekend boxoffice of $40 million from 3,050 screens in 22 markets.

At the opposite end of the franchise spectrum and finishing No. 5 was Lionsgate/Mandate International's "Saw V," which premiered via various distributors in the U.K., Australia, Panama, Venezuela, Poland, Slovenia, Taiwan, West Indies and Turkey. The weekend tally was an estimated $6.1 million from 940 screens with a No. 2 U.K. finish providing $3.8 million from 367 screens.

The biggest single overseas territory by far for "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" was the U.K., where the weekend tally was $13.5 million from 500 situations, or a mighty $27,000 per screen. Advance ticket sales in the market -- the largest overseas for Hollywood studio films -- had set a record a full three weeks before its Friday opening, Disney said. Its overseas debut, in which it finished No. 1 in at least 21 territories played, is the biggest October international opening of any title since at least 2001, according to Disney. Global tally stands at $82 million. Openings in nine new foreign territories, including Italy and Mexico, are on tap this weekend.

No. 2 during the frame was "Burn After Reading," which grossed an estimated $9 million from 1,900 screens in 20 markets, hoisting the cume for the Coen brothers' spy spoof to $48 million. Worldwide, the cume is $106.3 million.

Expanding by a dozen markets in its second weekend internationally, Fox's action vehicle "Max Payne" garnered $8.7 million from 2,400 sites in 44 territories, enough to grab the No. 3 spot. Its early cume is $17.8 million.

No. 4 was the DreamWorks/Paramount thriller "Eagle Eye," which performed well in Japan and South Korea and grabbed $7 million from 3,108 screens in 54 markets. Its overseas cume now stands at $57 million.

DreamWorks/Paramount's "Tropic Thunder" registered $4.4 million from 1,620 locations in 54 markets for a cume of $66 million. Tied at $4 million each on the weekend are Universal's "Mamma Mia!" and Pixar/Disney's "WALL-E," with the smash hit musical with Meryl Streep playing 3,200 dates in 50 markets for an overseas cume of $408.7 million.

"WALL-E" was booked at 2,990 screens in 24 markets, and it finished No. 1 in Italy for the second straight weekend ($2.1 million from 600 locations). Its foreign cume climbed to $253.5 million, eclipsing New Line's "Sex and the City" as the year's eighth-biggest overseas hit.

Fox's release of the Russian-language historical drama "Admiral" drew an estimated $3.6 million from 1,225 screens in Russia and the Ukraine, hoisting its cume to $33.6 million from just the two markets. Warner's romantic drama "Nights in Rodanthe" raised its international cume to $17.8 million thanks to a $3.4 million weekend from 1,600 dates in 24 territories.

Warners' release of Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" dropped from first to third place in France, collecting $1.7 million from 439 dates. Topping the market was the local-language entry "Mesrine: L'instinct de mort," a Pathe release of director Jean-Francois Richet's biopic of gangster Jacques Mesrine. The violent crime title starring Vincent Cassel drew an estimated $4.5 million from 299 situations, compared with $4.3 million from 400 locations for "HSM3," the market's No. 2 title.

The Ricky Gervais comedy "Ghost Town" from DreamWorks/Paramount opened in the U.K. in the No. 4 spot, amassing $2.1 million from 341 spots. Paramount's release of "How To Lose Friends and Alienate People" with Simon Pegg opened in Australia and New Zealand and collected $875,000 overall from 412 spots in three markets including the U.K.

Other weekend tallies, plus international cumes, include: Warners' "Body of Lies," $2.1 million from 737 screens, cume $9 million; Sony's "The House Bunny," $2.1 million from 1,370 sites, cume $16.9 million; Universal's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," $2 million from 1,178 dates, cume $72 million; Fox's "Mirrors," $1.7 million from 800 screens, cume $33.9 million; Universal's "Wanted," $1.5 million from 1,100 sites, cume $204.5 million; Disney's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," $1.2 million from 975 screens, cume $15.9 million; Universal's "Death Race," $1.2 million from 1,070 situations, cume $25 million; and Miramax/Disney's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," $1 million from 438 screens in the U.K. and Spain, cume $18.8 million from just the two markets.

Other international cumes: Fox's "Babylon A.D.," $16.4 million; Warners' "Get Smart," $100 million; Fox's "Blindness," $4.4 million; and Fox's "Krabat," $6.5 million.