'Music' sweetest in overseas b.o.

Ends No. 1 ride for 'Ghost'; Norbit right behind

"Music and Lyrics" narrowly bested its overseas competition for the weekend, finishing No. 1 with an estimated $10.1 million from about 2,600 screens in 28 markets.

Pairing Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, the Warner Bros. International romantic comedy opened in first place in Germany (an estimated $3.2 million from 613 locations), Holland ($666,000 from 95 screens for a $7,010 per-screen average) and Austria ($511,000 from 92 sites). A second-weekend No. 1 finish in South Korea generated an estimated $1.2 million from 127 locations for a market total of $3.9 million to date. Its overall international total is at $44.5 million.

Strong breaks in the U.K. and Germany plus respectable openings in a dozen new territories pushed Paramount Pictures International's "Norbit" to the No. 2 slot for the weekend with an estimated gross of $9.6 million from 2,072 screens in 22 markets.

The Eddie Murphy comedy bowed in the No. 1 spot in the U.K., the largest overseas market for Hollywood studio films; its weekend estimate was $3.8 million from 367 screens. In Germany, the opening tally was an estimated $2.4 million from 540 locations. "Norbit's" overall international gross to date is $19.6 million.

After three consecutive stanzas at the top of the international heap, "Ghost Rider," from Sony Pictures Releasing International, finished third for the weekend, grossing an estimated $9.4 million from 3,670 screens in 52 markets. Its overseas total to date is $76.9 million, and its worldwide cume stands at $181 million.

The Marvel Comics-based action fantasy starring Nicolas Cage bowed at No. 1 in Hong Kong (an estimated $375,000 from 37 sites for a $10,135 per-screen average) and Portugal ($225,000 from 41 locations). But "Ghost" lost steam in several big territories, including the U.K. (down 52% from its opening weekend to an estimated $1.7 million from 342 screens, ranking No. 3 in the market), Germany (down 51% from its second weekend to $715,000 on 369 sites, good for No. 3 in the market) and Spain (down 58% from its third weekend to $360,000 from 354 sites, No. 6 in the territory).

Finishing fourth for the weekend is another romantic comedy, this one of Italian origin produced by Cattleya and distributed in Italy alone by WBI. "Ho Voglia di Te," starring local teen heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio, grossed an estimated $9.1 million from 660 locations, representing the second-biggest market opening ever for an Italian title.

In fifth place is WBI's "300," director Zack Snyder's rendition of a graphic novel by Frank Miller about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. pitting 300 Spartan soldiers against more than 100,000 Persians. "300" finished No. 1 domestically for the weekend as well as in each of the five territories it opened in: Greece, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Maylasia.

Most notable of the bows was Greece, where "300" registered the biggest opening ever in the territory, grossing an estimated $2.9 million (including previews) from 112 screens. Overall for the weekend, the title registered $6.2 million from 337 screens, pushing its worldwide cume to $76.2 million.

DreamWorks/PPI's "Dreamgirls" yielded a weekend estimate of $3.7 million from 1,566 spots in 55 markets, raising its overseas cume to $44.1 million. Sony's "The Pursuit of Happyness" discovered an estimated $3.6 million from 2,210 screens in 59 markets, lifting its international total to date to $131.4 million. The Will Smith drama bowed No. 3 in the Philippines ($120,000 on 30 screens) and held respectably well in Korea (down 20% in its second weekend to $855,000 from 140 sites, and ranking No. 3 in the territory), Mexico, Brazil and Spain.

Buena Vista International opened the suburban biker comedy "Wild Hogs," the No. 2 title domestically, to first-place rankings in Australia and New Zealand, collecting an estimated $2.8 million from 330 situations. In Australia, the tally was an estimated $2.6 million from 290 screens, more than the combined gross of the No. 2 through No. 10 titles in the market.

Universal International's "Hot Fuzz, a cop-thriller spoof, dropped from the top spot in the U.K. to second place on the weekend with an estimated $2.7 million from 450 screens, lifting its 24-day solo market cume to $35.2 million. Australia and New Zealand bows are set for Thursday.

20th Century Fox International's "Epic Movie" moved its overseas total to $20.1 million thanks to an estimated $2 million on the weekend from 650 screens in nine markets. The bulk of the weekend tally came from a No. 1 opening in Spain, where it made an estimated $1.7 million at 300 locations).

Fox's "Night at the Museum," which ranked No. 2 the previous weekend, faded to an estimated $2.2 million from about 2,500 screens in 27 markets, pushing its international total to a formidable $283 million. The same distributor's "Rocky Balboa" boxed its way to $1.2 million from 1,400 spots in 26 markets, lifting its overseas cume to $76 million, including in Scandinavian territories handled by other distributors.

Notable among the weekend's single-market debuts is the No. 1 opening in Mexico of Sony's "Ninas Mal" (which literally translates to Bad Girls, though the distributor has titled the film "Charm School"). The Columbia Pictures Producciones Mexico title registered the biggest opening ever for a local-language film in the market. The Fernando Sarinana-directed comedy about an aspiring politician's daughter who clashes with her teacher at a charm school collected an estimated $1.6 million from 350 screens.

In the U.K., BVI's U.K. unit opened "Becoming Jane," a film biography starring Anne Hathaway as novelist Jane Austen in her early years, in the No. 4 slot. The weekend estimate came in at $1.3 million from 350 screens.

WBI's "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, led other Oscar-related titles with an estimated $2.6 million from about 2,000 screens in 54 markets, shoving its overseas cume to $99 million. 20th Century Fox's "Notes on a Scandal" moved its overseas gross to $20.5 million thanks to an estimated $1.4 million weekend at 950 screens in 40 markets.

WBI's "Letters From Iwo Jima" garnered an estimated $1 million from 782 sites in 50 markets, pushing its international total to $52.3 million. Universal's "The Good Shepherd" grossed an estimated $900,000 from 550 sites in eight markets, moving its overseas (Universal only) cume to $9.7 million.

The biggest of the Oscar-boosted titles on a percentage basis is foreign-language winner "The Lives of Others," which BVI is handling in Germany. The distributor said its weekend tally jumped 168% to an estimated $550,000 from 113 screens, lifting the German market cume to $14.7 million. "Lives," which has been playing in Germany since March 2005, climbed back into the market's top five, BVI said.

Fox's "Borat" grabbed an estimated $1.4 million on the weekend at 500 screens in 10 markets, edging its overseas cume to $128 million. The same distributor's "The Last King of Scotland" landed $1.1 million from 700 spots in 44 markets for an international cume of $20.7 million.

Also from Fox, "Little Miss Sunshine" continues to play smaller markets, pushing its overseas total to $36.7 million.

Universal's crime drama "Smokin' Aces" lifted its overseas cume to $16.3 million on the strength of an estimated $1.4 million weekend playing 500 screens in 27 territories. "Saw III," Lionsgate International's durable horror title, bowed in Italy to an estimated $1.2 million and generated an estimated $1.7 million overall from 19 markets. Its overseas cume is $78 million.

Other overseas cume updates: BVI's "Deja Vu" (which bows in Japan this weekend), $105.4 million; Universal's "The Holiday" (which bows March 24 in Japan), $129 million; PPI's "Charlotte's Web," $57.6 million; BVI's "Die Wilden Kerle 4" (Wild Bunch 4), $16.4 million; BVI's "Primeval," $1 million; and Fox's "Pathfinder," $6.9 million.