'Museum' tops in busy market

Stiller starrer No. 1 for fourth weekend; cume at $173.9 mil

As the industry settles down for the new year, an issue that's been heard for the past several years is again moving to the forefront: There are too many pictures out there vying for attention from the moviegoing public. The need to reduce production is already being considered by many major studios as competition from locally made films is getting stronger than ever and many studio and indie films are finding it harder to pick up suitable overseas dates.

This past weekend, in which 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum" grabbed the No. 1 international position for a fourth weekend in a row with $14.8 million and a cume to date of $173.9 million, saw the overseas market cluttered with successful holiday holdovers, Golden Globe nominees and Oscar hopefuls, as well as a batch of newcomers that are drawing early boxoffice attention.

Promising new entries appear to be Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky Balboa" from Fox, which opened No. 1 in the U.K. ($7.1 million from 405 screens) and came away with an overall weekend score of $11.8 million from nine markets, and Will Smith's "The Pursuit of Happyness" from Sony Pictures Releasing International, which picked up $8.9 million from 11 territories highlighted by a $3.2 million No. 1 bow in Germany. The U.K., a thirsty movie market, welcomed "Rocky" in the No. 1 spot, moving "Happyness" to No. 2 and "Museum" to No. 3. Four weekends in the U.K. has seen "Museum" collect $36.4 million from that market alone.

"Deja Vu," the Denzel Washington sci-fi thriller from Buena Vista International, showing good holdover control after opening late last year, had a $7.3 million weekend from 36 markets, reaching a cume of $90.1 million, with BVI setting its sights on topping $100 million as the film gets ready for China on March 6 and Japan on March 17.

The newest James Bond offering from Sony, "Casino Royale," is expected to exceed $400 million today in the international market as the weekend take of $5.9 million from 2,988 screens brought the cume to $399.6 million as of Sunday night. In 10 weeks in the U.K., "Casino" has taken in $103.2 million.

At the same time, the year-end saturation-booked "Eragon" from Fox is holding on longer than expected, picking up another $4.8 million over the weekend to lift its international gross to $161.7 million.

Fox, which successfully steered Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to new heights in Latin America and Asia, is handling the same territories for Gibson's Mayan-language "Apocalypto," starting out with a No. 1 bow in Singapore ($196,000 from 14 screens). Other markets, under the guidance of indie distributors through Gibson's Icon, saw "Apocalypto" open at No. 1 in Spain with $1.9 million from 277 screens and score $7 million and $7.8 million, respectively, in three weekends each in the U.K. and Italy. The estimated international cume to date is $16.9 million.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's multi-Golden Globe winner, "Babel," a split-rights contender between Paramount Pictures International and Summit Entertainment, picked up $4.3 million over the weekend from 829 screens, lifting the international cume to $44.1 million. PPI holds the rights for the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all of Latin America, while Summit is supervising the rest of the foreign market.

In its only overseas date so far, "The Last King of Scotland," for which Forest Whitaker copped the best actor Golden Globe, earned $1.4 million at its second weekend on 248 screens in the U.K. for a market total to date of $4.1 million.

Other b.o. activity in a busy overseas market saw Warner Bros. Pictures' Leonardo DiCaprio starrer "Blood Diamond" take in $3.1 million from 801 prints in 16 markets (cume: $13.2 million). "The Departed," which earned Martin Scorsese the Golden Globe best director nod, took in $4.3 million from 1,450 screens in 36 markets (cume: $133.3 million). "Dreamgirls," the best musical Golden Globe winner, opened in Australia and New Zealand to $1.1 million from 168 screens. The long-running "The Prestige" took in another $3.4 million from 1,185 prints in 39 markets (cume: $45.6 million).

The romantic comedy "The Holiday," the Universal Pictures International entry that started out during the year-end holiday season, hit $109.8 million from 2,463 screens in 38 markets. Warner Bros. Pictures' animated dancing-penguins film, "Happy Feet," earned $4.2 million over the weekend from 3,235 prints in 52 markets (cume: $158.3 million). DreamWorks/Paramount's animated "Flushed Away" reached $104.2 million after a $2.5 million weekend at 2,402 screens in 29 countries, and the family offering "Charlotte's Web" brought in $1.4 million from 1,523 screens in 16 markets to raise its international gross to $18.9 million. "Pathfinder," which won't open in the U.S. until April, found $2.1 million from 441 screens in four markets, with $3 million of its $3.9 million cume to date coming from Russia. Also in the market was Fox's teenage comedy "John Tucker Must Die," which took in $1.3 million from 403 screens in Germany. In seven weeks in Japan, Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima" has taken in $36.7 million.