Market hears 'Horton' loud, clear

Girds for lull before May tentpoles make appearance

With spring school holidays still in force in scattered foreign markets, the animated "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" moved to the forefront with a weekend take of $13 million from 5,875 playdates in 52 territories. At the same time, the prehistoric epic "10,000 BC," the international market's top draw for the past three weeks, came in a strong second with $12.5 million from 6,000 prints in 62 markets. Also making a play was the French stunner "Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis, which placed third in its fifth weekend with an estimated $12.2 million from about 1,000 screens in France and in neighboring French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland.

There were signs, however, of the beginning of an overseas boxoffice downswing — the traditional lull before the summer outbreak on May 1, which this year will witness a week-after-week blockbuster blitz of Paramount's "Iron Man," Warner Bros.' "Speed Racer," Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

In the meanwhile, a batch of entries slowly making their way around the globe had a chance to grab the limelight in strewed foreign markets. "27 Dresses" grabbed the No. 1 spot in the U.K. with $3.5 million from 426 screens, highlighting its weekend performance of $5.8 million from 1,451 screens in 21 countries, lifting its international gross to $58.9 million.

"Jumper," with a $5.7 million weekend from 1,778 screens, hit No. 1 in about nine countries, with Germany delivering $2.3 million from 205 screens; Mexico, $2 million from 591; and Brazil, $1.2 million from 213. The international cume has reached $118.6 million.

"The Kite Runner" made it to the top in Italy with almost $3 million from 404 screens, raising its overseas cume to about $35.9 million.

"Meet the Spartans" came in first in Spain with $3.1 million from 314 screens, the leading territory for the film, which took in $4.8 million from 1,075 screens in 17 markets for a cume to date of $32.1 million.

"Horton Hears a Who!" held at No. 1 for a second weekend in Australia ($1.4 million from 357 screens) for a market cume of $5.4 million. The Dr. Seuss adaptation also opened at No. 1 in Taiwan, South Africa and Croatia.

"10,000 BC" continued to rank No. 1 in China for a second weekend — ahead of opener "the Golden Compass" — grossing almost $2 million from 463 prints and 537 digital screens for a market cume to date of $7.6 million.

Disney's "Enchanted," which held the No. 1 post in Japan for a third week in a row with $2.2 million from 533 screens, crossed the $200 million mark ($201.8 million) in overseas boxoffice revenue — the 26th title in Disney history to hit the benchmark. Meanwhile, the studio's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" reached $233.6 million after picking up $1.3 million (from 488 screens) in China in its second weekend for a market total of $7.2 million.

Pathe's "Chez Les Ch'tis" remained No. 1 for a fifth session in France, Belgium and Switzerland, with a weekend take of $11 million from France, $1 million from Belgium and about $200,000 from Switzerland.

Despite no No. 1 openings, Paramount/Nickelodeon's family fantasy "The Spiderwick Chronicles" remained a strong holiday performer, taking in $7.9 million from 3,422 screens in 43 markets to provide a cume of $48 million. Another family entry, Disney's "The Game Plan," tallied $4.7 million from 1,313 screens in 15 countries (cume: $38.7 million). Germany provided $2 million from 403 screens; Spain, $1.5 million from 316; and the U.K., $7.1 million in four weeks. Latin America, where the "Game Plan" started out in October, has brought in $16.9 million to date, according to Disney.

The vacationing teen crowd flocked to the dance flick "Step Up 2 the Streets," which under the combined overseas handling of Universal and Summit Entertainment pulled in $7.1 million from 1,724 screens in 26 markets, with the cume reaching an estimated $41.9 million.

"Vantage Point," the political thriller about the attempted assassination of a president, took in $5 million from 2,300 screens in 25 markets and hoisted its cume to $61.5 million.

More weekend activity: Best-picture Oscar nominee "Juno" reached a cume of $62.5 million, with Fox International markets providing $58.5 million and those handled by Mandate International accounting for $12 million. "No Country for Old Men" took in $2 million from 1,107 screens (cume: $78.4 million); "There Will Be Blood" drilled for $1.1 million from l,693 locations (cume: $31.7 million); "Drillbit Taylor" laughed up $2.6 million from 847 screens (cume: $5.9 million); "The Other Boleyn Girl" tallied $2.6 million from 894 screens (cume: $24.4 million); "The Water Horse" charmed another $1.6 million from 1,450 screens (cume: $5.9 million); "The Bucket List" garnered $2.2 million from 945 excursions (cume: $56.8 million); "Definitely, Maybe" romanced $1.2 million from 449 screens (cume: $12.7 million); and "We Own the Night" shoots up $1.4 million from 234 nightclubs (cume: $7.2 million).

Cume updates: "Sweeney Todd," $97.7 million; "I Am Legend," $327 million; "American Gangster," $124.9 million; "Atonement," $72.9 million; "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," $49.2 million; "Charlie Wilson's War," $45.8 million; and "Saw IV," $69.7 million.