'Lord' close to breaking $500 mil mark

A liberal injection of new blood –both animated and human — revived ticket sales in a bunch of markets last weekend. “Ice Age,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Return to Never Land” led the toon brigade, while “The Time Machine” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” began their foreign campaigns with a flourish.

Fox’s “Ice Age” drew a socko $3.6 million on 488 screens in Mexico, a company record for the territory and the second-highest bow ever after “Dinosaur.” In Singapore, the Chris Wedge-helmed pic commanded $366,000 on 34, hailed by Fox as the biggest animated preem in history locally. The omens are awesome as “Ice” breaks out this weekend in the U.K., Germany, Australia and Brazil.

“Monsters” conquered Italy to the tune of $1.2 million on 243 screens, nearly 20% bigger than “Shrek” (which launched on 330) and 10% up on “Toy Story” (which played on 372). In Japan, “Monsters” dipped by 23% in its third stanza, collaring $4.3 million, propelling the market total to $22.5 million. All told, the Disney pic amassed $9.2 million abroad, hoisting its cume to $180.1 million.

The “Peter Pan” sequel “Return to Never Land” conjured up $930,000 on 200 in Spain (50% up on “Chicken Run”) and a less impressive $165,000 on 99 in Sweden (pitted against “Ice Age” sneaks).

Guy Pearce starrer “Time Machine” mustered $400,000 on 65 in Thailand (the market’s second-highest entry by a U.S. pic this year) , $256,000 on 80 in Holland and $161,000 on 30 in Malaysia — No. 1 in all three.

‘Royal’ tops ‘Soldiers’ in U.K.

“Royal Tenenbaums” picked up $991,000 from 159 locations in the U.K., beating the soph session of the Mel Gibson starrer “We Were Soldiers,” which plunged by 42%, collecting a soft $2.2 million to date. The Wes Anderson-helmed comedy made $500,000 on 80 in France (No. 3 in Paris and suburbs), $360,000 on 95 in Germany and $170,000 on 78 in Brazil — all quite healthy considering the limited number of screens.

The Brad Pitt/Robert Redford vehicle “Spy Game” top-scored in Germany, nabbing an OK $1.5 million on 639, and landed in Korea at No. 2 with $481,000 on 80. Estimated cume reached $68.6 million, with Brazil and Argentina as the only remaining major markets.

“Ocean’s Eleven” cruised to an estimated $238.8 million to rank as WB’s fourth-highest grosser of all time abroad, behind “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (which advanced to $631.2 million), “The Bodyguard” and “The Matrix.” The Las Vegas-set caper pocketed $6.9 million in 50 territories and, remarkably, clung to pole position in its fifth outing in Blighty and its third in Korea.

‘Rings’ is lord in Japan

Fast closing in on $500 million overseas, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” peaked at $490 million, spurred by Japan’s $26.4 million through its third orbit (off just 13%), where it regained the lead from “Monsters.” With $5.4 million in the till, “Rings” is now New Zealand’s top-earner ever, displacing “Titanic,” and it bowed in top spot in India with $121,000 on 41.

“A Beautiful Mind’s” total topped $56 million after minting around $8.2 million in 29 markets, including handy debuts in Singapore, Thailand and South Africa.

‘Park’ makes mark in Oz

Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” rang up a classy $602,000 on 64 in Oz, including sneaks, and has grossed a juicy $12.7 million through its fourth tour of its native U.K. Time-travel comedy “Kate & Leopold” fetched a winsome $907,000 on 213 Down Under and after its third in Italy has pocketed $1.9 million.

“Thirteen Ghosts” scared up a fair $1 million on 280 in the U.K., comparable with “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and its sequel; and a solid $227,00 on 20 in Singapore. Its cume is a mediocre $15 million, with five major markets ahead.

“Black Hawk Down” captured a strapping $300,000 on 46 in Russia and $144,000 on 75 in Argentina (good enough to be the market leader). Ridley Scott’s actioner has earned $38 million thus far with Japan, Germany and Sweden on the horizon.

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