'I Am Legend' leads charge at o'seas b.o.


On the international circuit, 2008 began in robust fashion as the year's opening weekend significantly bested 2007's comparable stanza, while "I Am Legend" took the top spot for the third consecutive frame with an estimated $34 million from 3,900 screens in 36 markets.

The Warner Bros. International release starring Will Smith had No. 1 openings in Australia — where it generated an estimated $8.5 million from 338 screens — as well as New Zealand and Greece. It remains in first place in the U.K., the largest overseas market, generating an estimated $8 million in its second weekend at 457 spots for a market cume of $37.4 million.

So far, "Legend" has grossed $170.2 million internationally and $398.8 million worldwide.

The weekend's top five films drew a 25% higher collective gross than the 2007 frame's top five, which included "Night at the Museum," "Casino Royale" and "Happy Feet." This frame's No. 2 title, New Line Cinema's "The Golden Compass," helped this time with an estimated $29 million from 7,038 screens in 59 territories, good for an international cume of $232 million — nearly four times its domestic cume ($61.3 million as of Jan. 3).

Placing third overall is Disney's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," which during the weekend exceeded the $100 million mark internationally (frame's cume: $ 100.6 million), making the Jerry Bruckheimer production the 68th Disney release to pass that gross benchmark overseas. The weekend tally was an estimated $19.1 million from 4,382 screens in 31 territories, growing its global cume to $271.6 million.

"Treasure" opened in eight territories, most notably in Belgium, where it drew an estimated $1.3 million from 60 screens for a muscular per-screen average of $21,667. In the vast majority of markets it has played to date, "Treasure" is substantially outpacing comparable gross action of its 2004 predecessor "National Treasure," which grossed $175 million overseas.

At No. 4 for the frame is 20th Century Fox International's "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which grabbed an animated $15.6 million from 4,200 screens in 49 territories for an overseas cume of $65.2 million. An Australia bow produced $3.5 million from 260 sites and a No. 2 market ranking.

Since it began its overseas run Nov. 22, Disney's "Enchanted" has rolled up a gross total of $138 million, with about 25% of the foreign market — including such key territories as Japan and Korea — yet to play. The latest overall tally for the musical fantasy was an estimated $15 million from 5,378 screens in 43 countries, enough to qualify as the weekend's No. 5 title.

Fox's "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" opened in France to an estimated $3.1 million from 426 sites, while the overall weekend take came in at $13 million from 3,000 screens in 33 markets for a cume of $36 million. Universal's "American Gangster" bumped its international total to $73 million thanks to an estimated $5.8 million weekend at 1,553 screens in 32 markets.

On the solo-market front, Fox's Russian-language pickup "Irony of Fate 2" grossed an estimate $9 million in its third weekend in Russia at 905 screens for a market cume of $23.8 million. Paramount's release of the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" generated an estimated $475,000 from 53 screens in the crime drama's third Australia weekend for a market cume of $1.9 million.