Uni's 'Bourne' in late-summer run o'seas


As August quickly drags summer away, the overseas boxoffice faces a quirky period of film releases during the final weeks of what is hailed as the most successful summer in industry history.

Traditionally, the final days of school holidays are a precursor to the fall when, starting in September, the major studios start placing more serious adult offerings in the international distribution pipeline. But August is, in fact, a catch-all period of the year that mainly offers foreign fans a mixed bag of movies that include holdover tentpoles from the major studios, American also-rans, homegrown films and non-U.S. imports.

High-profile films are seldom launched in late August, a period more noted for the playoffs of the sizzling blockbusters of June and July and perhaps a trickle from such May stalwarts as this year's "Spider-Man 3" from Sony Pictures and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" from Walt Disney Pictures.

But one late summer tentpole, Universal Pictures' "The Bourne Ultimatum," which opens Friday in the U.K. after starting out this month in Hong Kong, Indonesia and South Africa, is making a big key-market thrust in the last weeks of moviegoing vacation period. In addition to the U.K., the sequel starring Matt Damon will invade Spain, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a number of smaller territories during the remaining days of August. Japan and Italy, however, are scheduled to get the film in November. Universal's earlier tentpole offering, "Evan Almighty" has late August dates in France, Hong Kong and Spain.

Scattered around the globe as August wanes will be a number of independent entries, especially New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour 3," which has a number of key dates lined up for August starting this weekend. New Line's "Hairspray" and "Next" are among a few other indie titles that have a few dates.

The holdover summer tentpoles, based on the international boxoffice charts, have the best chance to draw the bulk of the business as the season comes to a close. A rundown of the charts in key territories shows such tentpole holdovers as "The Simpsons," "Transformers," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Ratatouille," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Surfer" and "Die Hard 4" holding strong in follow-up sessions in many key markets.

August business differs from country to country. The U.K., the No. 1 international market for U.S. films, remains especially lively as the school vacation period is at its height in late August. Italy, on the other hand, is in the doldrums until September. The U.K., an avid moviegoing country, tends to provide a No. 1 welcome to each new major film. "Rush Hour 3" took top honors last weekend, "Bourne Ultimatum" is expected to do so this weekend and "Knocked Up" will make its bid starting Aug. 24.

Holes in the overseas release schedule also emerge in August, providing the major distributors an opportunity to squeeze in some of their more modest product. Titles that may pop up here and there include "License to Wed," "No Reservations," "The Lookout," "Year of the Dog," "Daddy Day Camp," "Are We Done Yet?" and "I Think I Love My Wife," among others.