'Sarah' No. 1 as overseas market dips

Slow weekend is calm before the May storm

In the final weekend before the May tentpole deluge and the start of a swarm of summer pictures, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," a raunchy comedy from the Jeff Apatow stable, grabbed top overseas boxoffice honors with a gross of $7 million from 1,000 screens in nine territories.

The $29.5 million weekend total is one of the lowest of the year for the five leading scorers. But the industry is gearing up for the busiest season as Paramount Pictures International unleashes Marvel Comics' "Iron Man" in 55 markets today through Sunday, which will be followed week after week by saturation releases of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Speed Racer," Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

For the first time this year, the megabuck blockbusters will be challenged by counterprogramming of romantic comedies, starting this Wednesday with Sony's "Made of Honor," which is set to open against "Iron Man" in 20 territories. Fox's "What Happens in Vegas" goes up against "Speed Racer" in 30 markets, and New Line's "Sex and the City" joins the summer fray at the end of May.

In the meanwhile, last week's b.o. champ, Sony's gambling caper, "21," came in second with $6.1 million from 1,775 screens in 28 markets to lift its international cume to $30.7 million. The recent entry "Street Kings," Fox's cop thriller, moved up a notch to third place with a weekend tally of $6 million from 4,539 screens in 45 markets, reaching a cume of $19.8 million. Fox's long-running family favorite "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" took fourth place, hoisting its foreign gross to $126.3 million following a $5.3 million weekend from 4,539 screens in 45 countries. Joining the top five was Warner Bros.' "Fool's Gold," which dug up $5 million from 1,800 prints in 41 markets to raise its cume to $26.5 million.

The slow weekend helped a batch of new and old films top the boxoffice charts in scattered markets. "Sarah" hit the peak in the U.K. with $4.3 million from 393 dates, and it held the top rung in Australia for a second weekend with $1.5 million from 211 sites for an 11-day market cume of $3.8 million. It also opened at No. 1 in Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia and Ukraine. It only opened fair in Russia with $847,000 from 297 dates.

In Germany, the local title "Sommer," released by Disney International, held on to first place for a second weekend with $1.1 million from 407 screens for a market cume of $3.6 million. Including Austria and German-speaking Switzerland, the weekend total came to $1.3 million from 506 screens for a cume to date of $4.2 million.

In Spain, "Street Kings" headed the boxoffice chart with $1.1 million from 300 screens. It was also No. 1 in Denmark, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland, Egypt, Trinidad and Croatia.

In France, TFM Distribution's "Crash" rose to the top with $3.5 million from 522 screens, while all-time French leader "Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'Tis" (now English-titled "Welcome to the Sticks") held at No. 2 at its ninth weekend with $2.2 million from 849 screens for a market gross of $182.8 million. George Clooney's "Leatherheads" opened in France at No. 7 with $489,000 from 149 sites. The total weekend tally for the Universal release came to $1 million from 405 dates in seven markets (cume: $6 million).

In Japan, local film "Detective Conan Full Score of Fear" held first place for a second weekend, earning $2.7 million from 335 screens for a market cume of $8.1 million.

The Chinese film "Forbidden Kingdom" opened at No. 1 in Korea ($2.9 million from 390 screens) and in Taiwan ($825,965 from 52).

Other weekend tallies: "The Spiderwick Chronicles," $4 million from 2,712 screens in 39 markets (cume: $80.7 million); "Step Up 2 the Streets," $3.2 million from 1,579 screens in 20 markets (cume: $82.3 million); "Meet the Spartans," $2.9 million from 734 screens in 18 markets (cume: $42.6 million); "Shutter," $2 milion from 853 screens in 19 markets (cume: $12.1 million); "The Game Plan," $1 million from 1,067 screens in 13 markets (cume: $52 million); and "Nim's Island," $2.2 million from 4,980 screens in 11 markets (cume: $15. 5 million).