'Ratatouille' tastiest dish again

Spain's 'Orphanage' wakes up waning market with $8.3 mil

"Ratatouille" remained the leading international film for a second straight weekend as the Disney/Pixar family offering widened its European run, bringing in $21 million during the weekend from 3,410 screens in 34 countries. The animated culinary treat, which became the third-biggest Disney/Pixar entry ever by beating "Monsters, Inc.'s" $270 million, reached an international cume of $271.8 million and is expected to top $300 million before it completes its run.

U.K. moviegoers especially enjoyed the menu, feasting to $9.2 million from 502 screens as it outperformed all films in the market by 5%. "Ratatouille" also held the No. 1 position on boxoffice charts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Greece and South Africa. The second weekend in Germany netted $6.4 million from 970 screens for an 11-day market cume of $20.4 million. Other two-weekend totals include Austria's, $3 million and Switzerland's, $4.7 million. In France, home of the bistro rodent-turned-chef, the toon has brought in $59.5 million in 11 weekends.

The ongoing feast, benefiting from Disney International's strategic booking among a summer swarm of sequel blockbusters, is winding down; Italy, Sweden, Finland, Poland and China come aboard this weekend as the final dates in a run that started June 28.

There's still some moderate boxoffice action during a traditionally transitional period awaiting the November entry of the year-end holiday films. "Resident Evil: Extinction," the third installment of the video game-based sci-fi horror franchise, came in second during the weekend with an estimated $9.1 million from about 2,200 screens in 32 markets. The indie-produced film is being distributed overseas by Sony International and Summit Entertainment, with the combined cume to date estimated at about $40 million.

Weekend tallies saw the U.K. (No. 2) deliver $1.9 million from 311 screens; Italy (No. 3), $1.3 million from 254; and Australia (No. 1), $1.1 million from 134. Summit called the film's opening in Singapore "outstanding," noting that "Resident Evil" collected $359,000 from 26 screens for a per-screen average of $13,793.

Local-language films and Oscar hopefuls also have an opportunity to flourish this time of year, when major studio blockbusters take a breather. Foremost during the weekend was the Spanish-language "The Orphanage" (El Orfanato), which opened in Spain to $8.3 million from 350 screens. Distributed by Warner Bros. Spain, the ghost tale produced by Guillermo del Toro and broadcaster Telecinco Cinema was hailed as the second-biggest opening of all time for a Spanish film and the fifth-biggest industry opening in the market in 2007. "Orphanage," the directorial debut of Juan Antonio Bayona, is Spain's bid this year for a foreign-language Oscar. New Line recently picked up U.S. remake rights that include del Toro producing.

In the Oscar-touted category, the George Clooney starrer "Michael Clayton" is laying down roots with limited-screen entries in global markets. In Argentina, it beat out co-openers "Resident Evil" and "Stardust" to take the No. 1 spot with $99,000 from 21 screens. It arrived at No. 4 in Hong Kong, finishing behind "Lust, Caution," "Resident Evil" and "No Reservations." In Italy, where it opened No. 1 last week, it held on to the No. 2 spot with a two-week market cume of $3.9 million. In the U.K., "Clayton" posted another $283,000 from 115 screens, bringing its market cume to $3.3 million. The early international cume has reached $7.6 million.

In Spain, David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," which opened No. 1 in Spain last weekend, dropped to No. 4, taking in $895,834 from 245 screens for a market cume of $2.6 million.

Local-language films also took over No. 1 spots in France ("Un Secret de Claude Miller"), in Italy ("SMS — Sotto Mentite Spoglie"), Japan ("Hero"), South Korea ("Happiness") and Taiwan ("Lust, Caution").

Among recent U.S. films entering the international market, the DreamWorks/Paramount comedy "The Heartbreak Kid" tallied $5.7 million from 1,146 screens in five markets, opening at No. 2 in Spain to $1.8 million from 301 screens. Close behind was the Jamie Foxx starrer "The Kingdom" from Universal, which pulled in $5.5 million from 1,513 screens in 20 countries. Warner Bros.' Jodie Foster starrer "The Brave One" rounded out the weekend's top five with $4.5 million from 2,400 sites in 40 territories.

In a customarily overcrowded market, weekend action at the overseas boxoffice saw "Stardust" take in $4.48 million (cume: $32 million); "Rush Hour 3," $3.1 million (cume: $92.7 million); "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, $3.6 million (cume: $53.6 million); "The Bourne Ultimatum," $3.8 million (cume: $178.4 million); "Hairspray," $2.4 million (cume: $64.3 million); "Knocked Up," $1.9 million (cume: $58.3 million); "No Reservations," $1.7 million (cume: $45 million); "Superbad," $1.9 million (cume: $26.7 million); and "Surf's Up," $1.9 million (cume: $26.7 million).

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" opened in France and French-speaking Switzerland to $845,000 from 200 prints, ranking No. 3 in Paris despite competition from the Rugby World Cup. Disney's "The Game Plan" opened in Mexico to $1.9 million from 400 screens.

Hardly resting on its laurels, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" crossed the $100 million mark in the U.K. in its 14th week of release, lifting its international cume to $645.2 million.

Pamela Rolfe in Madrid contributed to this report.