'Knowing' tops overseas boxoffice

$9.5 mil weekend tally smallest by No. 1 finisher this year

The year's first quarter on the international circuit ended with a whimper at the boxoffice as Summit Entertainment's "Knowing," a time-capsule sci-fi thriller with Nicolas Cage, grabbed the No. 1 spot with a relatively modest $9.5 million from 1,684 locations in 10 markets for an early overseas total of $14.1 million.
The biggest boosts to "Knowing" were first-place bows in the U.K. ($3.6 million from 391 screens) and Australia ($1.4 million from 204 sites) and a No. 2 placement in Mexico. Still, the weekend tally was the smallest so far this year registered by any No. 1 overseas finisher.
A very close No. 2 on the weekend was Warner Bros. International's "Gran Torino," which captured $8.9 million from 2,800 screens in 45 markets. A No. 6 Mexico bow for the Clint Eastwood vehicle registered $324,191 from 195 screens. Much stronger grosses were recorded in holdover engagements in France, Italy and Spain. The overseas total for "Gran Torino" stands at $73.3 million.
Preliminary soundings of the Hollywood majors indicate at best a mixed first quarter at the international boxoffice.
20th Century Fox expects a 25% decline from last year's first quarter but projects that because of a strong future lineup, ensuing quarters will each beat 2008. Without offering specifics, Universal says that in general "business is up over last year."
Paramount reported "a pretty strong" first quarter, with English-speaking markets leading the way. The U.K., the largest foreign territory for the Hollywood majors, was up 16%. Australia was up 10%. But boxoffice in Italy, Korea, Mexico and Spain was flat, and Germany dropped 7% from a year ago. France was down 15%.
Disney cited the continued strength of the U.S. dollar as a key reason why it is tracking down 12% from first-quarter 2008. (When the value of the greenback is strong, foreign currencies shrink in dollar terms when repatriated to the U.S.) But measured in local currencies, many foreign markets showed growth in the quarter, Disney said.
The top major studio grosser in this year's first quarter was Warners' "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which just crossed the $200 million mark at the overseas boxoffice with $201.4 million. In second was Disney Animation's "Bolt," with a foreign cume of $178.7 million.

Multiple-Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire" is soon expected to surpass the $300 million worldwide boxoffice mark (global cume was $289 million as of Friday), with $159 million coming from foreign playdates. The top market by far is the U.K., where the cume stands at $45 million since Jan. 9. In India, the market total is $7.2 million since Jan. 23. Spain has provided $11.8 million over seven frames, while the Australia cume stands at $12.9 million over 15 stanzas.
The weekend action for director Danny Boyle's smash included a No. 3 rank in its second Germany weekend with $2.4 million from 270 spots for a market cume of $5.6 million. In France, "Slumdog" finished at No. 8 with $788,627 from 332 sites for a market total of $17.6 million accumulated over 11 frames.
Fox's family-oriented "Marley & Me" wound up in third place with $8.2 million from 3,200 screens in 41 markets for a cume of $73 million. Sparked by No. 1 openings in Germany ($4.2 million from 499 screens), Austria ($806,596 from 86 sites) and German-speaking Switzerland, the Kevin James' comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" finished fourth, drawing $7.9 million on the weekend from 1,561 screens in 14 territories, for an international cume of $14.2 million.

At No. 5 was Universal's "Duplicity," with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, which bagged $6.5 million from 1,817 locations in 120 markets for an early cume of $12.2 million. Openings in eight territories were highlighted by a No. 4 debut in France with $2 million from 380 screens.
Aided by openings in Spain, Korea and Singapore, "Confessions of a Shopaholic," the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced comedy from Disney, registered a $4.9 million weekend from 2,017 sites in 31 markets for a cume of $44.7 million (vs. $33 million domestic).
Opening in six markets and finishing at No. 1 in the Philippines, Czech Republic and Israel, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's 3-D outing "Monsters vs. Aliens" captured $4.1 million on the weekend from 852 sites in eight markets, hoisting its early overseas boxoffice total to $12.4 million. Playing at 2,620 locations in 49 territories was director Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen," from Paramount, which collected $3.9 million for a cume of $67.3 million.
Disney's "Race to Witch Mountain," starring Dwayne Johnson, expanded its run into Russian and Mexico, cornering $2.6 million on the weekend overall from 1,026 screens in 14 territories for a cume of $6.3 million. Fox's "Dragonball Evolution" opened strongly in Indonesia (marking the distributor's all-time biggest in the market) and pulled $2.1 million overall from 1,873 screens in nine Asian markets for a cume of $21.9 million.

Director Renny Harlan's "12 Rounds," which made its Australia bow last weekend, opened in six small markets this round for a weekend total of $658,574 from 332 sites in seven territories. Sony's "The Damned United" made its U.K. debut at No. 5, with $897,447 from 236 screens.
France continues to generate hefty grosses for local-language titles. The market's No. 1 film for the second straight stanza was Studio Canal's "Coco," Morocco-born comedian Gad Elmaleh's "comedy about money," which generated $4.4 million from 871 situations for a market cume of $18.7 million.
No. 2 in France was director/co-scripter/co-star Lucien Jean-Baptiste's "La Premiere etoile," a comedy about a financially pressed father of three who overpromises a family ski vacation. The opening round for the Mars Distribution release took in $3 million from 268 screens. Making its France debut at No. 5 was director John Woo's period epic "Red Cliff" from Summit International, which grossed $1.6 million from 336 locations.
Other international cumes: Focus Films/Universal's "Milk," $19.6 million; New Line's "He's Just Not That Into You," $54.3 million; Universal's "The Unborn," $26.4 million; Disney's "Bedtime Stories," $104.7 million (surpassing last year's "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" as Adam Sandler's biggest foreign grosser); Universal's "Changeling," $76 million; Disney's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," $48.3 million; DreamWorks/Paramount's "Hotel for Dogs," $39.1 million; New Line's "Inkheart," $33.6 million; DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," $411.4 million; United Artists' "Valkyrie," $106.5 million; and DreamWorks/Paramount's Revolutionary Road," $51.3 million.
More international cumes: Sony' s "The International," $22.4 million; New Line's "Four Christmases," $43 million; Sony's "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," $33.7 million; Fox's "Bride Wars," $54 million; New Line's Pride and Glory," $14.4 million; MGM/Sony's "The Pink Panther 2," $34.1 million; Fox's "Notorious," $5.7 million; New Line's Appaloosa," $7.3 million; Paramount's "Friday the 13th," $23.8 million; Summit Ent./Icon's "Push," $10.7 million; Universal's "The Tale of Despereaux," $33.8 million; and Focus Features/Universal's "Coraline," $8.4 million.