'Indiana' on overseas adventure

Tentpole opens to $146.5 mil in 58 territories

Indy's back ... in spades.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the latest installment of the franchise that started in 1981, was heartily embraced by a new generation of overseas moviegoers as the costly summer tentpole pulled in a huge $146.5 million from 8,347 locations in 58 territories during a weekend that began Wednesday.

The reunion of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford captured "60% -70% of most of the big markets," Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps said. "Business from the early performances picked up 50% between Friday and Saturday, indicating strong family playing time."

Cripps added that the results were "very encouraging" and presaged strong holdovers as big new action films are avoiding the market with the start of the European Cup soccer madness June 7-29. India and Pakistan open "Skull" this weekend, and Japan is set for June 31.

The weekend tallies for "Skull" saw the U.K. bring in $24 million from 500 sites; France, $19.9 million from 900; Germany, $12.4 million from 858; Spain, $10.5 million from 731; Australia, $9.4 million from 535; Mexico, $4.2 million from 406; Portugal, $1.7 million from 77; and Austria, $1.8 million from 94.

The opening of the fourth "Indiana Jones" as the final blockbuster of a May push might provide an early sign that this summer's tentpole crop will not come close to last year's all-time records in the international market. About the same time a year ago, Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" set an overseas opening record of $214 million, topping the earlier $176.6 million bow of Sony's "Spider-Man 3."

Perking up this year's market, however, is the second edition of Disney and Walden Media's family-faith franchise, "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," which delivered $18.4 million from 3,360 screens to provide an 11-day cume of $49.3 million from 13 markets.

Japan, the key weekend opening, tallied $7.8 million from 324 screens, hailed by Disney as the biggest opening weekend of the year for a U.S. film in the market. In holdovers, Mexico has earned $11.5 million after two weekends; Russia, $11.4 million in 11 days; Korea, $6.7 million; and India, $1 million. Most countries are beating the original "Narnia" by 70%, Disney International said.

When Fox International co-chairman Paul Hanneman said he was booking the romantic comedy "What Happens in Vegas" as a May counterprogramr to "Speed Racer," little did he realize that "Vegas" would overwhelm the highly touted action tentpole. In its third weekend of overseas release, the Cameron Diaz-Ashton Kutcher starrer brought in almost $13 million from 3,800 screens in 56 markets to lift its international gross to $78.2 million. It held the No. 2 position behind "Skull" in such key markets as Germany, the U.K., Spain, France and Australia, Fox said.

Paramount's "Iron Man," which kicked off the May tentpole parade overseas, reached an estimated $217.8 million as it picked up about $10.1 million from 48 territories in its third weekend in the foreign market. Paramount delivered $8.2 million from 44 markets, with the rest coming from territorial distributors handling the release in Germany/Austria, France and Spain.

Another counterprogramming romantic comedy, Sony's "Made of Honor," also bucked the action frenzy with a weekend score of $3.3 million from 1,745 screens in 25 markets to hoist its international cume to $25.5 million. It held the No. 3 spot in Germany in its second round, providing a market cume of $3.2 million.

"Speed Racer," the major disappointment of the May tentpoles, brought in about $3 million from 3,400 prints in 40 territories for a cume-to-date of $29.8 million. Warner Bros. is looking for a boxoffice boost as the Wachowski brothers' family-action movie opens in Russia this weekend; in Australia on June 12; in France on June 18; and July 5 in Japan.

Holdovers that managed to tally $1 million during the weekend included Sony's "21" ($1.8 million, for a cume of $49.4 million), and Warners' "The Bucket List" ($1.2 million, for a cume $75.2 million).

Other cume updates: "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," $23.2 million; "The Other Boleyn Girl," $33.1 million; "The Spiderwick Chronicles," $90.4 million; "No Country for Old Men," $86 million; "The Kite Runner," $36.2 million; "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" $138 million; "Shutter," $16.5 million; and "Street Kings," $30.4 million.