Stability marks overseas boxoffice


Holiday holdovers and appealing newcomers are keeping the overseas boxoffice humming in the early weeks of 2007.

In the U.K., for example, nine of the top 10 films, ranging from market bows to nine-week holdovers, each tallied more than $1 million over the weekend. Will Smith starrer "The Pursuit of Happyness" bowed in first place with $5 million from 413 screens, followed by the Ben Stiller comedy "Night at the Museum," which took in $3.8 million from 471 in its third weekend for a market cume of $32.7 million. Crime drama "Smokin' Aces," a new entry from Working Title via Universal, arrived third with $2 million from 338 screens.

Rounding out the U.K. top 10 were (in order) the second weekend of Renee Zellwegger starrer "Miss Potter" ($1.8 million from 343 screens), the opening of "The Last King of Scotland" ($1.7 million from 246), the ninth weekend of "Casino Royale" ($1.6 million from 301/cume: $104.3 million), the second weekend of Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto ($1.5 million from 378), the second weekend of Lionsgate's "Employee of the Month" ($1.4 million from 327), and the sixth weekend of the animated "Happy Feet" ($1.1 million from 473/cume: $33.6 million).

With the new year barely under way, several year-end openings have already topped the $100 million benchmark, among them "Night at the Museum," $151.1 million; "Eragon," $153.7 million; and "The Holiday," $102.6 million. In addition, Sony's long-in-release animated offering "Open Season" hit $101.6 million after picking up $1.1 million over the weekend from 927 screens in 30 countries. Another long-running animated film, DreamWorks' "Flushed Away," reached $99.8 million as it pulled in $3.8 million over the weekend from 3,321 screens in 35 countries.

Weekend business saw 20th Century Fox's "Museum" hold first place in the international market for a third week in row as it pulled in $20 million from 5,160 screens in 38 markets, highlighted by Brazil's $2.8 million from 502 screens, which Fox hailed as its third-biggest opening ever in the market. "Museum" still has many key markets on its slate, including Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Japan and China.

It was a big weekend for Fox as "Eragon" took in $10.1 million from 5,626 screens in 40 territories and Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky Balboa" opened to $9.7 million from 1,164 screens in six countries, with Italy supplying $4.1 million from 364; Spain, $3.7 million from 301; and Mexico, $1.6 million from 369.

Sony also found favor with an oldie and a newcomer, as the James Bond bulldozer "Casino Royale" added another $10.3 million from 4,235 screens in 57 markets to lift the international gross to a rousing $389.7 million. At the same time, Sony introduced "The Pursuit of Happyness" in the U.K. ($5 million from 413 screens) and Australia ($2.8 million from 223).

Universal's romantic comedy "The Holiday" has taken in more than $100 million since its yearend holiday season start, registering $7.5 million over the weekend from 3,070 screens in 38 markets, with Germany contributing $1.3 million from 543 screens and Mexico $780,000 from 230.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Happy Feet," the most recent CG-animated hit, reached an international cume of $151.7 million after scoring $6.2 million from 4,100 prints in 55 territories. Market cumes to date include the U.K., $33.5 million; France, $10.8 million; Spain, $9.5 million; Germany, $7.8 million; and Italy, $6.4 million.

Warner Bros.' "Blood Diamond" earned $3.3 million after bowing in three Asian markets and holding stable in second weeks in others. The Leonardo DiCaprio starrer opened to $970,000 from 121 prints in Korea, while Australia's second session came to $836,000 from 188, with a market cume to date of about $3.1 million.

In Germany, where "Museum" stayed No. 1 for a third weekend running, a local film, Dani Levy's "Mein Fuehrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolph Hitler," entered the German charts at No. 2 with $2.6 million from 267 screens.

The film features an impotent, buffoonish Hitler, played by local comedian Helge Schneider, taking public speaking lessons from a Jewish actor, played by "The Lives of Others" star Ulrich Muehe. Critics have been harsh, with some accusing Levy, who is Jewish, of trivializing Hitler and the Holocaust while others have dismissed "Mein Fuehrer" as "too tame" and "harmless." A strong first weekend, however, was all but guaranteed following the near-blanket media coverage of the film in the past few weeks.

In other weekend activity, Denzel Washington sci-fi thriller "Deja Vu" extended its cume to $81.5 million following a weekend take of $7.5 million from 36 markets; "The Prestige" took in $4 million from 36 markets, raising its cume to $41 million; "The Departed" grossed an estimated $2.7 million from 1,300 prints in 34 markets (cume: $127.6 million); and Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima" held the No. 1 spot in Japan for a sixth straight week, taking in $1.3 million from 305 prints for a market gross of $34 million.

Cume updates: "Children of Men," $33 million; "The Devil Wears Prada," $197 million; "Borat," $117.6 million; "United 93," $40.3 million; "You, Me and Dupree," $54.6 million; "Monster House," $62.9 million; and "Charlotte's Web," $19.4 million.

Scott Roxborough in Cologne, Germany, contributed to this report