Noms benefit 'Samurai,' 'King,' '21,' 'Lost'

The cachet from the Oscar noms had a palpable effect on “The Last Samurai,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “21 Grams” and “Lost in Translation” last weekend.

But its 10 noms appear to be too late to act as a tailwind for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” in Europe and Australia, although the seafaring saga got some benefit from the awards’ attention as it launched in Brazil.

Meantime, a motley assortment of films held sway in various territories, including “The Haunted Mansion,” “Mona Lisa Smile” and “Along Came Polly.”

“Last Samurai” cut its way to $243.5 million after banking an estimated $23.3 million from top-ranked debuts in six mostly small markets and holdovers in 39 territories.

Overall the Tom Cruise starrer dropped by an average of 26% from the prior weekend. Among the stellar bows were Poland’s $487,000 on 89 screens and Venezuela’s $274,000 on 40. Ken Watanabe’s supporting actor nod boosted the pic by 22% in its ninth stanza in Japan, elevating the market cume to a whammo $98.7 million. With $105.8 million in the till from Europe alone, it’s already Warner’s eighth-highest earner of all time in that region.

Strong throughout Europe

Through its fourth frames, director Ed Zwick’s epic captured $21.4 million in Italy (dropping 39%), $17.9 million in Spain (easing by 29%), $17.4 million in the U.K. (declining 31%) and $15.3 million in Germany (off 32%.).

It clocked $11.7 million after its third in France, tumbling by 38%. “Samurai” could have enough momentum to reach $300 million.

Feeding off its 11 Oscar noms, “Return of the King” rang up $20.7 million in 58 countries, down a modest 27% on the prior weekend. Its cume flew to $572.7 million, tracking 27% above “The Two Towers” (which wound up with $583 million), and with Japan slated for Feb. 14, seems headed for $650 million. Trilogy’s closer conjured up $7.2 million in Italy (slipping by 30% after its record-breaking preem), spurring the market tally to a phenom $23.7 million, within spitting distance of “Two Towers’ ” $27 million lifetime bounty.

“King” also retained the crown in its soph sesh in Russia, minting $2.4 million (abating by 31%), upping the tally to $8.4 million. The finale has now outgunned the predecessor in 47 countries.

‘Master’ solid in Brazil

“Master and Commander” hauled in a solid but not spectacular $461,000 on 155 in Brazil and its estimated cume topped $93 million, with Mexico and Japan ahead. Russell Crowe starrer expanded in its second voyage in China, tallying a fine $1.2 million in 10 days, now on 194 prints. It’s rustled up a terrif $15.4 million in Italy and a soft $6.3 million in France.

The two Oscar mentions for “21 Grams” helped the gritty drama to an impressive $990,000 bow on 152 in Spain and underpinned the Naomi Watts starrer in its second turns in France, where it’s garnered $2.4 million (off 17%) and in Oz, where it’s delivered $1 million from just 40 prints. Focus Features’ pic has collected a fine $4 million through its third outing in Italy.

“Lost in Translation” got a nice bump from its four Oscar mentions in Oz with a 12% spike, earning $2.4 million in 38 days. Bill Murray/Scarlett Johansson starrer eased by 10% in its fourth in the U.K., advancing to $9.3 million.

“Big Fish” caught $2.9 million on 362 in the U.K., including previews: in pounds, 15% bigger than “Erin Brockovich’s” entry. Sony was heartened to see the pic experienced a zero drop at the 17 London situations where it platformed the prior weekend; market total is $3.2 million.

“Scary Movie 3″ ruled Britannia, yocking up $3.4 million in its soph sesh (albeit plunging by 47%), for a juicy territory total of $11.6 million. Spoof’s cume is a handy $45.3 million in 22 territories.

“Brother Bear” was tops in France, per BVI, although tracking by another distrib had Gallic laffer “RRRrrr” in pole position. “Bear” snared $4.6 million on 781 screens , the second-best toon bow locally in late winter behind “Toy Story 2.” Its cume climbed to $48.7 million in 18 countries, highlighted by Mexico’s $12.7 million and Poland’s nifty $1.2 million in 10 days; Disney is shooting for an eventual total of around $130 million.

‘Haunted’ tops in Spain

“The Haunted Mansion” was No. 1 in Spain, fetching $2.3 million on 350 (a career best for Eddie Murphy, beating “Dr. Dolittle”) and in Mexico, bringing in $1.9 million on 345 (also a personal best for Murphy, outscoring “Daddy Day Care.”). Family pic shed 23% after a swell start in Germany, coining $4 million in 11 days.

“Along Came Polly” reigned again in Australia, whistling up $1.1 million, bringing the 11-day tally to $3.9 million.

“Mona Lisa Smile” raked in $7.1 million in 40 markets, raising cume to $35 million, seemingly headed for $80 million-plus, which would eclipse domestic’s $63 million. Femme-skewed pic drew $420,000 on 40 in Greece, marking the best opening for a Julia Roberts vehicle, beating “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Word of mouth kept “Mona” in pole position in its second semesters in Germany (earning $6 million to date, easing by 15%), Switzerland and Austria, and it abated by 30% in France, mustering $3.8 million in 12 days.

Domestic also-ran “Runaway Jury” courted a sturdy $1 million on 180 in Italy and a ho-hum $284,000 on a limited 55 prints in South Korea.

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