'Pirates' on three-week rampage

Tops 'Thirteen' debut at int'l b.o. with $51.3 mil frame

Walt Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" weathered intensified international competition during the weekend, maintaining its lock on the No. 1 spot for the third consecutive stanza with an estimated $51.3 million from 17,500 screens in 103 territories.

After two unthreatened weeks overseas, "At World's End" had to contend with the opening of Warner Bros. International's "Ocean's Thirteen," which tallied an estimated $28 million at about 4,200 screens in 30 markets.

Bowing day-and-date with its No. 1 domestic debut, the third in director Steven Soderbergh's Las Vegas caper series, co-starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, already has grossed $65.1 million worldwide.

"At World's End" also had to counter the expanded rollout (in 14 new territories) of DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International's "Shrek the Third," which nabbed an estimated $25 million from 1,852 screens in 23 markets. Its overseas total is $54.5 million; worldwide, its cume is $336.4 million.

Another newcomer on the foreign circuit for the weekend was "Surf's Up," Sony's latest animation outing, which generated an estimated $2.1 million from 400 screens in Russia and Ukraine. The Russian tally was $1.9 million from 340 situations. "Surf's Up" also bowed in the U.S. and has generated a worldwide gross of $20.1 million.

Sony also opened Lionsgate's production of "Hostel: Part II" during the weekend in two markets. Writer-director Eli Roth's grisly horror sequel managed an estimated $465,000 from 140 screens in Australia and Argentina. Openings this weekend in Germany, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Colombia should provide meatier numbers.

Meanwhile, "At World's End" has rolled up $493.5 million internationally in three weekends, surpassing 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" ($493.2 million) as the 15th-biggest overseas boxoffice smash of all time. It already has exceeded the international tally of 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" by nearly $140 million, and is shy $149 million of the total take of last year's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

"At World's End" should pass the half-billion-dollar mark internationally by today or Tuesday, according to distributor Buena Vista International. No other film has reached that benchmark so quickly.

"At World's End" now ranks No. 23 on the chart of all-time industry boxoffice hits worldwide with a gross of $747.1 million. It is the third most successful foreign release for Disney and the fourth-biggest worldwide grosser for the company (after "Dead Man's Chest," 2003's "Finding Nemo" and 1994's "The Lion King").

Japan was the biggest market for "At World's End," where the film ranked No. 1 with an estimated $9 million (down just 26% from the second weekend) at 871 screens, for a market cume of $50.5 million. In the U.K., "At World's End" placed No. 2 (after "Thirteen") with an estimated $4.7 million from 552 screens, for a cume of $66.8 million.

"At World's End" bows Tuesday in China, its last big overseas market.

"Thirteen" scored No. 1 bows in 20 markets, including the U.K. (an estimated $6.1 million from 699 sites), Spain ($3.4 million from 487 screens), Italy ($2.4 million from 526 locales) and Greece ($1.1 million from 118 situations).

The best markets for "Shrek" were Korea, where the film had the highest market opening for an animation title with an estimated $11.3 million in five days from 536 locales, 55% better than the previous record holder, "Shrek 2"; and Australia, where the film was No. 1 with an estimated $8.5 million from 276 locales. This week, it opens in another 13 markets including France, Mexico and Brazil.

In its sixth weekend, Sony's "Spider-Man 3" pushed its overseas cume to $539 million thanks to an estimated $7 million weekend from 6,205 screens in 77 markets. The biggest is Japan, with an estimated $1.2 million from 587 screens, for a cume of $54.3 million. Worldwide, "Spider-Man 3" has grossed $864.7 million.

WBI opened "300" in Japan to an estimated $3.5 million from 453 screens, pushing its overseas cume to $235.8 million. WBI's "Zodiac" pulled an estimated $3.6 million from about 1,800 sites in 44 markets for an overseas gross of $32.6 million.

Universal's horror-thriller remake "The Hitcher" managed a No. 8 finish in the U.K. with an estimated $162,000 from 216 screens in its second weekend. The film's 10-day cume is $865,000.

"Mr. Bean's Holiday," also from Universal, raised its overseas tally to $182.4 million after 11 weeks thanks to an estimated $750,000 weekend at 1,200 screens in 35 markets. Its U.S. bow is Aug. 31.