'Inception' tops overseas box office

Leonardo DiCaprio film reclaims top spot over 'Expendables'

"Inception" by a length!

In yet another down-to-the-wire weekend on the foreign theatrical circuit, Warner Bros.' "Inception" reclaimed the No. 1 overseas box office crown, nosing past the previous champ, independently distributed action title "The Expendables."

What sealed "Inception's" return to box office supremacy was its huge, No. 1 opening in China, which Warners declared was the fourth biggest logged in that market by any non-Chinese title. Five-day tally is estimated by Warners to be $13.6 million thanks to some from 2.6 million admissions clocked at about 3,300 screens.

Director Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio has breezed past the $400 million foreign gross mark in eight rounds of offshore release (cume $418.9 million), rolling up $24.4 million on the weekend overall from some 8,200 screens 60 markets.

"Inception" took first place offshore in the opening three weekends of last month while "Expendables" muscled its way to the top on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29.

For its part, the Millennium/Nu Image Films super-octane action vehicle directed by and co-starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Stratham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke, grossed an estimated $21 million in 34 markets, including China.

Latest China stanza is estimated to have grossed $8.2 million (final figure still hasn't surfaced). With "Inception" moving into the No. 1 spot in the market over the Labor Day weekend, it is unlikely that "Expendables" maintained enough box office momentum to overtake Warner Bros. release.

In 33 territories outside China, "Expendables" yielded $12.8 million from 3,800 screens on the weekend. (In China, "Expendables" scored $23.9 million in its first 10 days ended Aug. 29, with total theatrical attendance topping 5 million.)

The Stallone action title opened on the weekend in Italy ($1.4 million from 291 screens), in Argentina ($415,759 at 57 situations) and in New Zealand ($346,778 from 49 sites). The biggest "Expendables" territories -- outside China -- are Russia (cume $13.4 million), the U.K. ($13 million), France ($10.5 million) and Australia ($7.7 million).

Including estimated China box office returns, "Expendables'" foreign gross total stands at approximately $118 million since its first foreign engagement in Israel on Aug. 12. A Japan opening is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Entering the overseas market via a No. 1 U.K. opening was Studio Canal's "The Last Exorcism," director Daniel Stamm's horror thriller, which has done swift box office business domestically. Handled by local distributor Optimum Releasing -- the company's first title to take the top U.K. spot -- "Exorcism" came up with an estimated $1.7 million from 313 locations.

Premiering at No. 1 in Australia and in New Zealand was Paramount's "Tomorrow, When the War Began," an Aussie-made adventure-drama about teenagers fighting foreign invaders. Debut gross was a combined $3.8 million from 282 screens.

20th Century Fox opened in Brazil "Nosso Lar," director Wagner de Assis' spiritual drama about a doctor's post-death experiences in an alien land. Debut weekend at 453 screens drew $3.4 million for a decisive No. 1 market premiere.

Paramount's "The Last Airbender" had some air taken out of its tires overseas, dropping from $20.27 million in the prior weekend to $9.4 million in its latest offshore round at 3,499 venues in 42 territories. Director M. Night Shyamalan's 3D adaptation of a Nickelodeon TV series has grossed $139.6 million since it opened overseas July 8.

Maintaining its No. 1 position in France ($1.8 million in the second round at 543 spots for a market cume of $7 million), Sony's "Salt" generated $8.65 million overall from 3,935 situations in 64 markets. Overseas gross total for the Cold War drama starring Angelina Jolie comes to $146.7 million.

"The Karate Kid" has notched an overseas cume of $157.8 million since it opened on the foreign circuit on June 9. Starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, Sony's update of the 1980s original title drew $8.3 million on the weekend from 3,538 locations in 44 markets.

Pixar/Disney's "Toy Story 3" in 3D is winding down its overseas run after 12 frames offshore with a $7.4 million weekend at 4,601 venues in 44 markets for a whopping foreign cume of $621.4 million, making the animation title the 11th-biggest overseas grosser ever. Worldwide gross is $1.03 billion.

Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," the Jerry Bruckheimer live-action production starring Nicolas Cage, also drew $7.4 million on the weekend, from 3,296 sites in 41 territories for an offshore gross total of $114.4 million, with 7% of the overseas market yet to play. Global gross stands at $176 million.

Summit International/Universal's "Step Up 3D" finished at No. 1 in Austria and Germany ($2.4 million from 390 sites for a cume of $7.4 million). Weekend overall for the latest in the urban dance franchise was $7.1 million from 2,658 venues in 34 territories. Overseas cume stands at $82.6 million over five offshore rounds, of which $30.9 million derived from territories handled by Universal.

Dimension Films/The Weinstein Co.'s horror thriller "Piranha" in 3D scared $6 million out of 1,303 screens in 13 markets on the weekend for an early overseas cume of $18.4 million.

After more than three months on the foreign circuit, DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek Forever After" in 3D became the biggest offshore grosser of the four-title animation franchise -- surpassing "Shrek 2's" $478.5 million foreign gross total in compiled in 2004 -- with $481.9 million in international box office via Paramount. Latest weekend's take was $5.6 million from 2,704 venues in 40 markets.

Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "Grown Ups" hoisted its international box office total to $78.1 million thanks to a $4 million weekend at 2,107 screens in 54 territories. Warner's "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" scored $3.7 million from 3,328 screens in 48 territories, lifting its offshore cume to $50.4 million.

Fox's "Avatar: Special Edition" has elicited about $10.3 million in 11 days overseas business, which, when added to the humongous overseas gross of the director James Cameron's original issue, brings total foreign business to $2.008 billion for the title. Opening in seven territories, "Special Edition" on the weekend overall drew $3.9 million from 1,482 screens in 20 territories.

Opening No. 1 in Japan at 316 locations was Nippon Television/Shochiku's "Beck," director Yukihiko Tsutsumi's feature adapation of a hit manga and tv series about teenagers forming a rock band. Debut gross was $3.7 million.

Commanding the No. 1 South Korea spot was "The Man From Nowhere," C.J. Entertainment's release of director Jeong-beom Lee's local-language crime thriller. Fifth weekend at 450 locations generated $2.4 million for a market cume of $33.2 million. No. 2 in the market was Lionsgate's comedy "Killers," which premiered to $1.3 million from 332 spots. Overseas cume stands at $42.6 million.

Other international cumes: Fox's "Vampires Suck," $6.9 million (after a $2.7 million weekend from 1,300 screens in 23 territories); Universal's "Despicable Me," $74 million; Fox's "Predators," 71.6 million; Universal's "Get Him to the Greek," $25.7 million; Fox's "Knight and Day," $152.7 million; Lionsgate's "The Switch," $6.6 million; UGC Distribution's "Crime d'amour" (Love Crime), $2.5 million over three rounds in France only; and Universal's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," $9.6 million.

Also, Fox's "The A-Team," $98 million; Universal's "Charlie St. Cloud," $700,000; Fox's "Marmaduke," $43.7 million; Paramount's "Dinner for Schmucks," $2 million; Fox's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," $3.18 million; DreamWorks/Paramount's "How To Train Your Dragon," $274.7 million; Wild Bunch Distribution's "Le bruit des glaces" (The Noise of Ice), $3.1 million over two rounds in France only; Universal's "Hanni und Nanni, $6.3 million from Germany and Austria only; Fox's "My Name Is Khan," $34.5 million; Fuji TV/Toho's "Bayside Shakedown 3: Set the Guys Loose," $83.1 million' and Universal's "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang," $63.3 million.