Sharing the wealth

Slew of titles backs 'Samurai,' 'King' o'seas

Samurais and Hobbits were the hottest tickets overseas last weekend, but the B.O. showed a healthy depth in many markets as auds sought out alternative fare including “Scary Movie 3,” “Mona Lisa Smile,” “Along Came Polly,” “21 Grams” and even Stateside underachiever “The Haunted Mansion.”

The frame’s champ, “The Last Samurai,” minted an estimated $31.3 million from 5,394 screens in 39 territories, spurring cume to $206.1 million. With that kind of momentum and mostly small markets ahead, the Tom Cruise starrer appears headed for $275 million. Director Ed Zwick’s epic continued its run of triumphant debuts in Sweden ($654,000 on 88 screens), Norway ($427,000 on 50), the Philippines ($441,000 on 75) and Argentina ($315,000 on 65.)

The samurai saga retained top spot in its eighth sojourn in Japan, commanding $3.2 million (down 16%), upping the territory total to $90.9 million. Through its soph sessions, Warner’s pic has captured $9.1 million in France (easing 28%), $5.1 million in Australia (albeit falling 46%), $4.4 million in Mexico (off 26%) and $2.4 million in Brazil (slipping 22%).

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” rang up $12.2 million in four days on 730 prints in Italy, hailed by New Line as an industry record in the territory and 36% bigger than the four-day bow of “The Two Towers,” which launched on a Wednesday.

Piling on

The Middle Earth saga also eclipsed its forerunner’s preem by 53% in Russia, conjuring up $4.3 million in four days on 225. New Line estimated “King’s” weekend haul at $28.7 million from nearly 7,200 screens, driving cume to $538.7 million, tracking 25% ahead of the middle seg.

The finale has outgrossed “Towers” in 42 of the 54 territories in which it has played. Its stellar scores include the U.K.’s $94.6 million, Germany’s $81 million, France’s $46.5 million, Spain’s $36.8 million, Oz’s $29.9 million, South Korea’s $27.2 million and Sweden’s $21 million.

“Scary Movie 3” rustled up $6.3 million on 418 in Blighty, Miramax’s best debut in the market, and in pounds 10% bigger than the combined opening weekends of the first two editions. Spoof has earned a strapping $38.5 million in 22 territories, including impressive contributions from France and Oz.

Big ‘Smile’

“Mona Lisa Smile” fetched $2.75 million on 600 in Germany, $676,000 on 88 in Switzerland and $312,000 on 78 in Austria — No.1 in all. Julia Roberts starrer bowed in second spot in France ($2 million on 394) and Brazil ($494,000 on 162) and third in Holland ($336,000 on 59). Sony/Revolution pic grossed $8.8 million, elevating cume to $25 million in 29 territories, including Italy’s handy $6.5 million and Spain’s superb $4 million in 10 days (abating 30%).

In its offshore preem, “Along Came Polly” led the field in Australia, wooing $1.9 million from 193 locations.

After bagging a sturdy $4.8 million in Mexico, award contender “21 Grams” brought in an estimated $1.1 million on 172 in France and a terrif $462,000 in five days on 40 prints Down Under.

“Big Fish” netted $226,000 at 17 theaters in its London platform, posting a per-screen average just 4% less than that of “A Beautiful Mind” when it platformed in the capital. Tim Burton-helmed pic rolls out nationwide Thursday in the U.K.

“Haunted Mansion” spooked Germany to the tune of $2 million on 602, bigger than “Daddy Day Care” and “George of the Jungle.”

Sailing into its final market, “Finding Nemo” hooked $310,000 on 95 in Turkey, an industry animated record, beating “Monsters, Inc.” Disney/Pixar pic cruised to $504.7 million, ranking as the first feature toon ever to notch a half-billion bucks overseas; it soon will overtake “Independence Day” to become the eighth-biggest title abroad. Toon has collected a socko $93 million in Japan and $62.2 million in France.

‘Bear’ market

“Brother Bear” drew $560,000 on 29 in Hong Kong (second-highest debut by a traditionally animated pic behind “Mulan”) and $450,000 on 87 in Poland (BVI’s third best opening after “Nemo” and “Signs”). “Bear” has collected a dandy $41.3 million in 16 countries, highlighted by Mexico’s $12.4 million and Korea’s $1.3 million in 10 days.

“Peter Pan” whistled up a fair $330,000 on 28 in Singapore but a blah $197,000 on 27 in Hong Kong. Fantasy’s cume is a modest $28.8 million in 17 markets, led by the U.K.’s solid $14 million and Australia’s disappointing $6.3 million.

“Stuck on You” stuck pretty well in Spain, mustering $1.4 million on 275, but was less appealing in Belgium and Greece. Farrelly brothers’ laffer has pocketed $17 million in 16 markets. after reasonable runs in the U.K. and Mexico but soft results in Germany and Scandinavia.

Among the also-rans, “Paycheck” wrote a nondescript $1.08 million on 499 in Germany and $907,000 on 238 in Spain. Ben Affleck-Uma Thurman starrer plunged by 43% after a mediocre start in the U.K., tallying $3.1 million in 10 days.

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