'Transformers' take over world boxoffice

Robots No. 1; Sony first to hit $1 bil mark

Another strong summer stanza on the international circuit saw a reshuffle at the top during the weekend, when "Transformers" emerged as the new No. 1 title with an estimated $43.6 million gross from 3,503 screens in 29 territories.

Although not as muscular overall as the previous weekend's exceptionally strong showing -- when a half-dozen titles grossed more than $10 million, compared with three this stanza -- the weekend's action reinforced the view that summer 2007 remains sizzling overseas for the major U.S. studios.

Sony Pictures Releasing International said Sunday that the international boxoffice for its films this year passed the $1 billion mark faster than ever before in the distributor's history, making Sony the first studio to reach that milestone in 2007.

Sony's previous international record was set last year on Aug. 24. (By the end of 2006, Sony generated $1.634 billion overseas, its biggest year to date.) The biggest of Sony's titles overseas so far this year are "Ghost Rider" ($103.9 million gross), "The Pursuit of Happyness" ($120.1 million), "Casino Royale" (which grossed $87.9 million of its $428 million total in 2007) and, of course, "Spider-Man 3" ($549.4 million, $215 million more than its domestic gross).

"Transformers," the sci-fi/action film directed by Michael Bay and based on the popular toy line and animated TV series, broadened its international rollout in its second weekend by opening in 19 new territories, finishing No. 1 in Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Turkey. The DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International release has an international gross of $93.6 million; it has grossed $246.1 million worldwide.

The biggest "Transformers" market was Russia (an estimated $8.3 million from 394 screens), followed by Spain ($5.2 million from 706 sites) and the Netherlands ($1.4 million from 111 situations). The title also remained No. 1 in Australia ($3.8 million from 231 screens for a cume of $13.5 million) and in New Zealand ($1 million from 63 sites for a cume of $3 million).

Finishing second for the weekend is 20th Century Fox International's "Die Hard 4" (aka "Live Free or Die Hard"), which grossed an estimated $41.4 million from 6,773 screens in 49 territories. A big boost came from the Bruce Willis action sequel's bow in four of the top 15 world markets: the U.K. ($9.8 million from 463 screens), France ($6.9 million from 749 sites), Mexico ($2.8 million from 802 situations) and Belgium ($1 million from 98 screens).

"Die Hard 4's" international total is $84.3 million; its worldwide cume is $168.5 million.

"Shrek the Third," which had been on top internationally for the previous three weekends, placed No. 3 overall with an estimated gross of $33.5 million from 6,114 locations in 53 markets, lifting its overseas total to $322 million. The DreamWorks/PPI film remained No. 1 in the U.K. ($10.2 million from 444 screens for a cume of $50.1 million) and also performed strongly in France and Germany.

Buena Vista International's release of Pixar/Disney's "Ratatouille" finished fourth during the weekend with an estimated $9.3 million from 1,835 screens in a dozen markets. Its overseas cume stands at $17.6 million ($127.1 million worldwide).

"Ratatouille," starring Patton Oswalt as the voice of Remy, the animated French rat, opened in six new territories, grabbing the No. 1 spots in each. The best was Mexico, with an estimated $4.2 million from 750 screens, more than the No. 2-No. 4 film grosses combined. It was the second-biggest market opening ever for a Pixar title. In Brazil, the opening tally was $1.3 million from 300 screens.

Warner Bros. International's "Ocean's Thirteen" is No. 5 overall for the weekend with an estimated $9.215 million from about 4,930 screens in 55 markets. The overseas gross for the star-laden crime caper stands at $139.6 million. Its biggest holdover market remains the U.K., where the territorial cume is $24.5 million.

BVI's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" continued in durable fashion in its seventh weekend internationally, grossing an estimated $8.1 million from 6,597 screens in 51 markets. Its overseas cume stands at $623.7 million, making the "Pirates" sequel the fifth-biggest international release ever, surpassing "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," which grossed $614.7 million in 2002.

Worldwide, "At World's End's" gross is $925.4 million, making it the sixth-biggest boxoffice hit ever, just behind 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($926.3 million), which BVI expects Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew to surpass by todayMonday or Tuesday. Market cumes for "At World's End" include the U.K., with $78.9 million; Japan, $78 million; Germany, $56.1 million; France, $45.7 million; and China, $15.3 million (making it the biggest Disney title to play the market).

Universal International bowed director Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up" in Australia, where the comedy grossed $3.3 million from 222 screens for a healthy per-screen average of $14,865math ok. Sony's release of "Hostel: Part II" realized $1.4 million during the weekend from 974 screens in 15 markets for an overseas cume of $10.7 million.

Universal/UPI's "Evan Almighty" grossed an estimated $500,000 from 160 locations in eight markets, raising its overseas cume to $4 million.

Other overseas cume updates: Universal's "Hot Fuzz," $53.5 million; Sony's "Stomp the Yard," $12.9 million; Universal's "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $184.6 million.