'Shrek 3' takes over o'seas lead

Green ogre's $44.7 million unseats 'Pirates'' three-week hold

Without competition from last year's World Cup soccer madness, movies regained the June spotlight in the international market, as "Shrek the Third," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" combined to provide one of the most highly gratifying weekends of the summer boxoffice.

"Shrek the Third," slowly but forcefully wending its way around the globe, grabbed the No. 1 position at the foreign boxoffice with a weekend haul of $44.7 million from 3,445 screens in 29 territories, muscling "At World's End" out of first place after the Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer franchise dominated overseas multiplexes for three weeks in row.

For the most part, the green ogre's steady climb since starting out May 17 came from smaller markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, with major markets in Western Europe just beginning to come aboard the animated bandwagon. The DreamWorks/Paramount entry has had the biggest-ever openings for an animated film in 12 international markets so far, including Russia and Korea, among others, according to distributor Paramount Pictures International.

"Shrek 3" passed the $100 million benchmark over the weekend as it checked in with $106.1 million, propelled by mighty bows in France ($12.5 million from 850 screens), Australia ($4.4 million from 476), Mexico ($7.7 million from 426), Brazil ($5.6 million from 280) and Taiwan ($781,000 from 65).

Germany and Spain are among the 10 new territories joining the "Shrek 3" parade this coming weekend, while the U.K. is set for June 29.

"Pirates 3" may have given up its No. 1 hold on the international market, but it remains a powerful contender for top boxoffice honors in 2007 as it reached an offshore cume of $549.3 million in its fourth weekend, topping "Spider-Man 3's" international gross of $543.9 million, which was reached in seven weekends of overseas release.

Captain Sparrow and his mates looted China for $6.8 million (from 879 screens) in six days to lead its fourth-weekend take of $34.7 million from 11,676 screens in 104 territories, a hefty lineup that enabled "At World's End" to fend off new summer blockbusters entering the market with fewer outlets. In Japan, "Pirates 3" held on to first place for four weeks in a row, scoring $6.5 million from 838 screens for a market cume of $60.8 million.

Other four-weekend totals include the U.K., $72.1 million; Germany, $49.9 million; France, $39.5 million; and Korea, $32.2 million. Distributor Buena Vista International said that "Pirates 3" became the 10th most popular film ever released in the international market, and that it has beaten "Pirates 1" by 55% and is currently 15% behind "Pirates 2."

"Ocean's Thirteen," the crime caper sequel from Warner Bros. Pictures, grossed $26.7 million from 5,150 prints in 38 markets to lift its international cume to $67.4 million. The Steven Soderbergh-helmed, star-filled film bowed at No. 2 in Australia ($3.4 million from 356 screens), and opened No. 1 in Korea ($3.3 million from 190). Holland saw $1.1 million from 95 screens; Belgium, $751,000 from 67; and South Africa, $340,000 from 72, including previews.

Holdover markets, according to Warner Bros., fell only 35%, with the U.K. providing $14 million after two weekends; Germany, $7.8 million; Spain, $7.8 million; and Italy, $4.7 million. Upcoming releases include France and Brazil this coming weekend, Mexico on June 29 and Japan on Aug. 11.

"Rise of the Silver Surfer" made an impressive debut in the summer sequel sweepstakes, entering the international stage in 32 countries for a solid opening of $25.2 million from 3,300 screens. The opening kickoff witnessed strong No. 1 bows in four leading international markets, with vigorous support from a horde of smaller markets.

The overseas start saw No. 1 bows in the U.K. ($8.2 million from 475 screens), Italy ($3.4 million from 646), Russia ($1.7 million from 483) and Taiwan ($941,000 from 162). The Marvel Comics offering was Fox's all-time biggest weekend opening in the Philippines ($1.7 million from 332), Indonesia ($739,000 from 96) and Malaysia ($954,000 from 123), and came in at No. 1 in India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The release of "Fantastic Four" will be spread out over several months. Australia and Mexico come aboard this month, followed by France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Korea in August, and Japan and China in September.

Meanwhile, "Spider-Man 3" remains potent in the summer mix, picking up another $3 million from 4,200 screens in 75 markets. Seven-week market totals include $66.7 million from the U.K., $55.7 million from Japan, $53.3 million from France, $334.7 million from Mexico, and $33.4 million from Korea.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Zodiac" contributed $3.1 million over the weekend from 1,880 prints in 44 markets to provide a cume to date of $37.2 million.

Cume updates: "Bridge to Terabithia," $41.8 million; "Next," $19 million; "Shooter," $46.9 million; "Blades of Glory," $17.5 million; "Fracture," $3.9 million; "The Number 23," $38.7 million; "The Last Mimzy," $3.3 million; "300," $240 million; "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $175.2 million; and "Hot Fuzz," $51 million.