'Sex' highly rated overseas  

Romantic comedy gives Indy a run for his money; 'Panda, 'Zohan' make appearances

Early fears that romantic comedies could not travel overseas were somewhat assuaged over the weekend as New Line's "Sex and the City" surged to the top of the international market and Fox's "What Happens in Vegas" hurdled past the $100 million mark.

In its second weekend, "Sex" edged out "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," pulling in $37.6 million from 5,708 screens in 40 markets compared with $36.5 million for the Paramount tentpole's third round on 7,519 screens in 53 territories. "Sex" reached an international cume of $91.5 million while "Indy" hit a lusty $325.1 million.

In Australia, where "Sex" debuted at No. 1 with $7.5 million, pirates served as indicators of what's hot at the boxoffice when police raided two retailers in Sydney that were selling pirated copies of the film two days before the opening. Nevertheless, many theaters in major Aussie cities reported sellout audiences on opening day, with many showings extended to movie houses that normally play art house fare.

In Hong Kong, women flocked to see the racy film, which was categorized as restricted to persons over 18. About 75% of the audience were women in their 30s and 40s who dressed up for the occasion and attended in groups, according to Joe Li, manager of the IFC Palace Theater in central Hong Kong's multinational business hub.

In South Korea, young women flocked to theaters largely devoid of men and ooh'd and ah'd at each dress, high heel and closet full of clothes, according to reports.

"Sex" opened at No. 1 in 16 of its 25 new openings, including countries Greece, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania.

The Steven Spielberg-directed "Indy" has tallied $64.6 million to date in the U.K., $30.8 million in France, $21.7 million in Australia, $23 million in Korea, $15.5 million in Italy, $22.1 million in Germany, $16 million in Russia and $24.8 million in Spain. It premieres in Japan this weekend before the official opening June 21.

With "Sex" and "Indy" leading the way, overall summer business is beginning to boom. Paramount/DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" joined the fray with a promising $20.5 million from 1,552 screens in nine markets; Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" reached a foreign gross of $101 million after a weekend take of $20.1 million from 4,473 screens in 26 territories; and "What Happens in Vegas" picked up $7.4 million from 3,482 screens in 60 markets on its way to over-$100 million glory.

"Panda," like Sony's new entry, the Adam Sandler starrer "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," are off to staggered rollouts, with "Panda" making the overseas rounds from now to the end of August. "Zohan," which opened to $2.1 million from 406 screens in Mexico and Iceland, also has overseas dates running to the end of August.

"Panda," meanwhile, blasted into Korea with $8 million in four days from 586 screens; Russia, $8.2 million from 574; Singapore, $1.4 million from 71 in three days; and Malaysia, $1 million from 58.

This coming weekend will witness a major competitive outburst as Fox unleashes M. Night Shyamalan's paranoid thriller "The Happening" on Friday in more than 60 territories, and Universal counters with Marvel Comics' "The Incredible Hulk," which launches day-and-date with domestic in 37 territories. Universal Pictures International has acquired "Hulk" rights from Marvel for international distribution, with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Japan.

Gambling, like sex, has universal appeal. In the midst of the battle of the blockbusters, Sony's "21" managed to pick up another $4.6 million from 1,650 screens in 52 markets to lift its cume to $59.5 million.

"Caspian's" climb to the over-$100 million ranks came from No. 1 positions in 14 markets, with China delivering $3.3 million from 384 screens; Taiwan, $1.3 million from 34; and Hong Kong, $1 million from 68. The family offering finished second to "Sex" in Australia, opening to $4.1 million from 246 screens.

"Iron Man" forged another $4.1 million to lift its international cume to $248.9 million, and Sony's romantic comedy "Made of Honor" reached $35.1 million, following a $3 million weekend. Meanwhile, "Speed Racer" — "Honor's" counterprogramming rival in early May — hit $36 million after a $1.2 million weekend.

Pip Bulbeck in Sydney, Karen Chu in Hong Kong and Mark Russell in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.