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Good but not great

'Alexander' dodges 'Incredibles' face-off

“Alexander” isn’t exactly conquering the world yet, but the Oliver Stone epic has shown considerable traction offshore in 20 midsize territories with $4.02 million at 686 playdates.

“Alexander” avoided going head to head with BVI’s “The Incredibles,” which dominated for the second consecutive frame with $36.3 million in 24 markets, lifting its foreign cume to $104.6 million. With debuts coming this weekend in Germany, Austria, Brazil and South Africa, “Incredibles” looks likely to maintain its hot streak and begin approaching $200 million well before Christmas Day.

“Alexander,” despite relatively downbeat U.S. biz of $30 million in a dozen days, led in nearly all of its markets as it expanded into 10 territories over the weekend. The initial foreign perfs give hope that “Alexander” can follow in the beefy footsteps of recent historical epics “The Last Samurai” and “Troy,” both of which generated about $350 million offshore.

The Colin Farrell starrer, which has grossed $14.2 million offshore, won’t hit major foreign markets until after Christmas. It will bow in Germany at year’s end, followed by France, Benelux and the U.K. in the first week of 2005. Film will open in Australia Jan. 13; Japanese auds will get it in February.

Strongest returns came in Mexico, where the opening of “Alexander” topped the field with $1.33 million at 400 playdates — 20% higher than the debut of “Gangs of New York,” 18% above “The Patriot,” 14% better than “Gladiator” and six times that of “Braveheart.”

The Greek market generated solid opening numbers with $948,356 at 83 screens despite a taxi strike Friday and the Olympiakos-Panathaniakos soccer match Saturday. The returns were on par with “Troy,” and the most recent “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” pics.

“Alexander” also posted wins in its openings in Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Serbia, Latvia and the UAE; it came in first in its soph seshes in Denmark and Croatia. In Taiwan, the epic came in second in its second weekend with $392,000 at 190 engagements for a $1.9 million cume.

BVI noted that “The Incredibles” has become its 40th title to clear the $100 million mark since the distrib began operations under its current name in 1993. The heaviest biz came from its second weekend in major European markets, with $8.1 million in the U.K., $6.5 million in France, $4.4 million in Italy and $3.7 million in Spain — all with declines of 33% or less.

BVI also reported impressive biz for the Pixar toon in new markets, including $617,000 at 157 in Argentina; $595,000 at 34 in French Switzerland; $469,000 at 143 in Thailand; and $369,000 at 65 in Venezuela, the highest ever for a BVI pic in that market.

“Incredibles” was beaten only in Japan, where its $7.3 million soph sesh was 25% behind the third weekend of Japanese toon hit “Howl’s Moving Castle.”

“Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” remained the other powerful draw, with $17 million at 3,431 playdates, pushing its cume to $108.3 million. Over half of that total has come from the U.K. with $56.3 million, including $3.1 million in its fourth weekend.

Despite the approach of Christmas, foreign auds showed only moderate interest in holiday-themed fare. “Polar Express” grossed $11.3 million but performed far below the level of “Incredibles” in markets where the two pics went head to head. French opening took in $1.8 million at 670, while Italy generated $1.58 million at 455; Warner Bros. noted that soph-sesh German results showed no decline with $1.6 million. But the film finished behind “Bridget Jones” and “National Treasure.”

Best perf for “Polar” came in a limited opening in Blighty, with $198,152 at four sites, including Imax screens in London, Manchester and Bristol.

“Christmas With the Kranks,” the other major holiday entry, remained a tough sell outside the United States, unwrapping a modest $3.8 million in 16 territories, including a $1.4 million U.K. debut on 366 screens.

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