'Mummy's' dearest: No. 1 with $61 mil
EmptyWith one month to go before the trek back to school begins, the blockbuster action adventures keep pouring out in assembly-line mode, with the past weekend's new offering, Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," dominating the overseas boxoffice with a superb $61.2 million from 4,020 sites in 27 countries.
The China-set thriller with Asian stars Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh took over the market leadership from Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight," which tallied $38.2 million from about 6,500 screens in 51 markets, raising its international gross to $203.7 million. "Mummy" took control overseas thanks mainly to record-breaking openings in Southeast Asia but disappointed in its domestic debut as Batman maintained his rule.
Meanwhile, the summer boxoffice keeps rolling along, with "Mamma Mia!" taking in $16.4 million; "WALL-E," $15.5 million; "Kung Fu Panda," $12.3 million; "Hancock," $11.9 million; "The X Files: I Want to Believe," $8.7 million; and "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $8.7 million.
South Korea led the welcome parade for the third return of "Mummy," where it was Universal's biggest opening of all time with $13.7 million. Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand registered No. 1 openings, providing the studio with its biggest or second-biggest weekend opening of all time, according to Universal Pictures International.
Overall, the Rob Cohen-directed adventure opened No. 1 in 25 territories, grossing $13.3 million in Russia, $6.5 million in Spain, $5 million in Mexico and $3 million in Brazil. The Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello starrer still has 38 markets to play in the next six weeks, with the U.K., France and Germany on tap this weekend.
The Caped Crusader, never an overseas favorite equal to "Spider-Man" or "Pirates of the Caribbean," made it past the $200 million mark for the first time ever, surpassing 1989's "Batman" ($160 million), 1992's "Batman Returns" ($120 million), 1995's "Batman Forever" ($149.6 million), 1997's "Batman & Robin" ($126.4 million) and 2005's "Batman Begins" ($166.5 million).
Over the weekend, "Dark Knight" led the U.K. for the second weekend in a row with $13.4 million from 1,021 prints, dropping a slender 22% from its opening for a market cume of $50.6 million. It also held on to No. 1 in Italy with $1.6 million, for a market cume of $9 million. In its third weekend in Australia, "Dark Knight" shined through as the highest-grossing film of 2008, according to Warner Bros. International, grossing $32.7 million after taking in $4.6 million from 467 screens.
The feel-good musical "Mamma Mia!" saw its cume climb to $142.5 million as mostly distaff supporters rallied for another $16.4 million from 2,430 dates in 23 markets, with Lebanon and Israel coming through with No. 1 openings. The U.K. has delivered $64.1 million in 24 days; Germany, $16 million in 18; and Australia, $20.1 million in 25.
Unlike the fanboy-targeted action adventures that receive wide initial releases to grab a jumpy audience and avoid piracy, the animated and family entries receive slower rollouts geared to holiday periods.
Paramount/DreamWorks Animation's "Panda," out in the international market for eight weeks, has reached an eye- opening gross of $329.4 million following a $12.3 million weekend from 4,995 screens in 43 markets, with the U.K. accounting for $33.8 million in four weeks; Australia, $24.4 million in five; Korea, $28.6 million in eight; and Russia, $20.6 million in eight.
Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E," a $15.5 million performer over the weekend, reached $95 million and is expected to pass the $100 million benchmark by midweek. France welcomed the cartoon at No. 1 with $7 million from 736 screens, while Belgium contributed $896,000 from 119 and the Netherlands earned $831,000 from 188.
"Prince Caspian" reached $246.5 million after a No. 1 opening in Germany claimed $4 million from 836 screens.
"X-Files" maintained its opening pace, picking up $8.7 million from 3,988 screens in 40 markets — almost equaling its $8.9 million opening weekend.
More weekend action: "Journey to the Center of the Earth," $3 mil-lion (cume: $30.2 million); "Wan-ted," $6.2 million (cume: $115.5 million); and "Get Smart," $2.4 million (cume: $70 million). (partialdiff)