Overseas summer ends with a bang

Three titles top $10 mil; 'Shrek 3' leads pack with $17.9 mil

Three tentpole films tallied more than $10 million at the overseas boxoffice in the final weekend of August, bringing a record summer season to a roaring close. The weekend lions included "Shrek the Third" ($17.9 million), "The Bourne Ultimatum" ($14.7 million) and "Ratatouille" ($10.4 million). At the same time, there was plenty of juice left in such long-running titles as "The Simpsons Movie," which brought in $7.6 million in its sixth week of foreign release, and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which scored $7.1 million in its eighth international weekend.

DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek," released overseas by Paramount Pictures International, returned to the forefront as it added six new territories in winding up an overseas run that has brought in a triumphant $436.5 million to date.

Italy, opening its doors wide after a somnolent summer at the boxoffice, greeted the CG-animated ogre with a hefty $10.7 million from 705 screens. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Bulgaria also unrolled the No. 1 red carpet.

With "Bourne," "Knocked Up" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" now taking off in the international market, Universal Pictures International is starting to get on the scoreboard that was dominated by its studio rivals in the May-August span.

The Matt Damon starring spy thriller is beginning to take on all the trappings of a tentpole as it moves into more major markets. It opened in Australia with $5.1 million from 254 screens, hailed by UPI as the biggest all-time August opening in the market and the distributor's largest four-day bow. Six smaller markets also welcomed "Bourne" at the top of their boxoffice charts, with Argentina contributing $311,000 from 42 screens. "Bourne" has held the No. 1 spot in the U.K. for three weekends in a row, taking in $4.3 million from 440 screens for a market cume to date of $35.8 million. Spain has delivered $10.6 million in three weekends. A big opportunity comes up this coming weekend in Germany and Switzerland. The international cume to date stands at $77.4 million.

Disney/Pixars' "Ratatouille," in a staggered release pattern around the globe, picked up $10.4 million over the weekend from 2,767 screens in 31 countries to reach a foreign cume of $190.3 million. The boxoffice tally came mainly from "great holds," according to Disney International, which expects the animated culinary tale to hit $200 million after the film opens in Australia this coming weekend. The film's only weekend opening saw Singapore bring in $1.2 million from 55 screens, acclaimed as the biggest-ever opening in the market for an animated movie.

France, the cuisine capital of the world, held onto its homegrown rat-turned-chef at No. 1 for a fifth weekend, generating $4.4 million from 749 screens for a market cume of $50.7 million.

20th Century Fox's animated entry, "The Simpsons Movie," moved up to a whopping international cume of $302.6 million after it registered $7.6 million from some 5,000 screens in 49 markets. The only new territory for the film, Greece, delivered $412,000 from 81 screens. Holdovers played a key role in maintaining the overseas run of "Simpsons," which reaches Italy on Sept. 14 and Japan in March. Six weeks of playing time has supplied $75.2 million from the U.K., $26.9 million from France and $25.8 million from Australia.

"Order of the Phoenix," in its eighth weekend of overseas release, hit an eye-opening cume of $627.8 million and became the second-highest grossing film of the Harry Potter franchise, beating the $617 million registered by "The Chamber of Secrets." "Phoenix's" weekend performance also brought it to new heights as the sixth-highest grossing film ever in the overseas market.

To date, "Phoenix" has collected $98.2 million from the U.K., $61 million from Germany, $49.9 million from France, and $30.1 million from Australia.

UPI's "Knocked Up" also added new foreign dates, increasing its cume to $38 million following a $6.1 million weekend at 1,581 playdates in 19 countries. It held the No. 1 spot in Germany for a second session ($1.9 million from 598) for a market cume to date of $5.1 million. "Knocked Up" still has 40 more overseas markets to go, according to UPI.

New Line's International's "Rush Hour 3," after a $5.8 million weekend from 2,064 screens in 13 markets, reached a cume of $50 million, with the U.K. accounting for $19.5 million after four weekends, and Japan, $4.6 million after two.

Warner Bros. Pictures' romantic comedy "No Reservations" pulled in $4.2 million (cume: $12.8 million). "Transformers" added $3.7 million to lift its cume to $375 million. "1408" opened at No. 3 in the U.K., with $2.2 million from 405 screens. "Evan Al-mighty" took in $3.5 million over the weekend to provide an international cume of $48 million. Sony's animated "Surf's Up" took in $2.5 million (cume: $37 million). "Chuck & Larry," just getting under way, came up with $1.6 million for an early cume of $9.5 million. "Ocean's Thirteen" went up to $188.5 million after a $1.6 million weekend.