'Rings' breaks $400 mil mark

With no Super Bowl to distract them, folks overseas made cinemagoing their favorite spectator sport this weekend.

There were athletic preems for “Ocean’s Eleven” in Japan, “Monsters, Inc.” in Germany, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in Argentina and Hong Kong, “Vanilla Sky” in Italy and “Black Hawk Down” in South Korea.

The Steven Soderbergh-helmed “Ocean’s Eleven” stole $6 million from 365 prints in Japan, beating the debuts of “Cast Away” by 157%, “Unbreakable” by 160% and “Hannibal” by 140%, according to Warner Bros.’ Sunday projections. The casino caper also ranked No. 1 in South Africa, capturing $270,000 on 76, which WB expects to be the industry’s second-biggest opener ever. Stellar cumes include Spain’s $7.5 million through its third round, Germany’s $18.7 million and Australia’s $9.7 million, both in its fourth. All told, the distrib estimated the pic’s weekend haul at $15 million, elevating cume to $81 million.

In its first Euro assignment, “Monsters, Inc.” manufactured more than $3 million in four days on 736 prints in Germany, for the market’s fourth-biggest toon entry behind “Dinosaur,” “Tarzan” and “The Lion King.”

‘Lord’ leaps to $400 mil

“The Lord of the Rings” hit $400 million after an estimated weekend bounty of $22 million, New Line Intl. president Camela Galano said Sunday. Peter Jackson’s epic rang up in $1.2 million on 120 prints in Argentina — a record for local distrib WB, 34% better than “Harry Potter,” and the market’s third-highest behind “Titanic” and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” The hobbits tale also ran hot in Hong Kong, fetching about $1.8 million on 51.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is closing in on $600 million overseas after minting an estimated $6.6 million over the weekend, hoisting cume to $590 million. Weekend tally includes Turkey’s estimated $625,000 preem on 104 (the industry’s third best, according to Warners) but not its opening in China, which WB expects will be at least $2 million.

The Tom Cruise/Penelope Cruz headliner “Vanilla Sky” reigned in Italy, drumming up an estimated $2.2 million in three days on 300. Its Saturday gross surpassed “Mission: Impossible 2’s” first Saturday by 15%, UIP crowed Sunday. But the Cameron Crowe-helmed remake of Spanish pic “Open Your Eyes” was less luminous in Spain, mustering roughly $446,000 in two days on 321, a distant second behind “Ocean’s Eleven.” Despite hostile notices and mixed word of mouth, “Sky” eased by a reasonable 31% in the U.K., picking up an estimated $7.5 million in nine days, and by 32% in Germany, making about $4 million in 10 days.

“Black Hawk Down” notched a high-flying $930,000 on 115 in South Korea, trouncing the bows of “Enemy of the State,” “Con Air” and “Hannibal” to take third spot behind two Korean titles: rookie “Lost Memories” and the soph session of “Public Enemy.” The Somalia war saga outperformed the same Yank actioners in the Philippines with an opening weekend of $350,000-$400,000, according to Sony’s estimate.

The Farrelly brothers’ laffer “Shallow Hal” was the best of the freshmen in the U.K., wooing an estimated $1.8 million in three days on 284. In its first offshore engagement, Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” unspooled in Blighty with a promising $730,000 in two days on 161, ahead of “Training Day’s” mediocre $680,000 on 264.

Fox’s “Behind Enemy Lines” seized pole position Down Under with a solid $910,000 on 228, including sneaks, while the Anthony Hopkins starrer “Hearts in Atlantis” initialed with a mild $348,000 on 114.

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