'Island' continues to show promise o'seas

Heading into the dog days of summer, Warner Bros.’ “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was one of the few pics not melting away at the international box office.

“Charlie” pushed its cume internationally to $67.3 million over the Aug. 5-7 frame, rolling most of its dough from the U.K. and France, where the pic has been popping.

“Charlie” had yet to open in such territories as Germany, Spain or Hong Kong, where it was to bow over the Aug. 12-14 frame.

After a disappointing showing overseas for its “Batman Begins” earlier this season, Warners gained some ground with “The Island,” a pic that has proved a dud Stateside for DreamWorks, but continues to show promise in foreign markets.

Pic — concerning cloning and starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson — has cumed $42.3 million overseas, mostly from strong Asian openings. “Island” has yet to bow in such territories as the U.K. and Mexico. However, that’s the type of turf where bad buzz from the U.S. may travel more easily than Asia.

Rounding out the top five on the international scene were Buena Vista Intl.’s “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” which has shown little torque overseas as it aims for both kids’ and teens’ attention, followed by UIP’s animated “Madagascar” and Fox’s “Fantastic Four,” both of which have been performing well during their overseas runs.

Overall international B.O. during the Aug. 5-7 frame was off compared with the same weekend in 2004, when “I, Robot,” “Spider-Man 2″ and “King Arthur” were on the scene.

‘Factory’ output

“Charlie’s” recipe for success slipped a bit in its U.K. soph sesh, and Blighty biz overall was down 34% compared with the previous weekend. Overall biz was off 5% from the same weekend last year.

“Charlie” slipped 44% in its soph showing, but the drop was respectable given the whammo bow and unfavorable weather conditions for moviegoing in its second outing. Tim Burton-helmed pic raced to almost $35 million in its first 10 days behind boffo reviews, a strong campaign and a palpable U.K. feel to the material.

Although U.K. exhibs are generally thrilled by “Charlie’s” success, they are also concerned about being dependent on one film. “You don’t do record business with just one film playing well,” one exhib says.

In the U.K., CGI animal pic “Madagascar” slipped 50% in its fourth week. Bookers attribute its slide to the weather. Pic has taken in $33,405,624 in Blighty.

Meantime, “Herbie” opened significantly below industry projections. Pic could only manage an opening of $1.4 million when most had it down for just under $2 million. However, with rainy weather in the forecast, pic is expected to hold nicely.

Gruesome horror opener “The Devil’s Rejects” surprised some U.K. exhibs by posting a better screen average than Sony’s higher-profile opener “Stealth,” which has had a U.K. crash landing.

U.K. bookers are projecting a $2.5 million opening for “Island,” behind a loyal McGregor following.

Franco-fall

Gallic B.O. dropped 15% compared with the week prior, as Fox’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” took a deep plunge, and newcomers failed to bring in the big bucks.

August and early September are slow months in France, when pics with so-so buzz can get some traction thanks to the lack of competish.

“Smith” maintained its top spot in France, despite a 54% drop in ticket sales. Pic pocketed $3.29 million in its second frame and scored a per-screen average of $4,938 from 668 engagements.

Second spot in France was occupied by Luc Besson-Robert Mark Kamen-penned English-lingo pic “Transporter 2.” Pic’s take of $2.8 million in its first frame was considered strong by local exhibs. (Pic opens domestically in September.)

“Herbie” managed to rev a $2.4 million opening in France.

Teuton take

In Germany, a territory that’s been hard to crack this season for Hollywood, B.O. was actually up 17% from the previous frame, thanks to perfs of “Madagascar” and ” Smith.”

One exhib also expressed satisfaction with “Island,” which opened at No. 3. “After its poor showing in the U.S., we weren’t expecting too much, so we’re happy,” he said. “It’s a strong and timely story, so it might actually continue to do well here.”

Exhib also underlined the significance of family fare during the summer months, saying, “While the box office usually suffers in the summer, it’s also the time when parents have time off to go to the cinema with their kids, and movies like ‘Madagascar’ are invaluable.”

“Charlie” was to bow in Germany Aug. 11.

In Spain, mass exodus to the country’s beaches caused B.O. to drop by 12% from the previous weekend. But bookers also blamed the films: “In the first weekend of August 2004, ‘I, Robot’ opened to $4.7 million over its first weekend,” one noted, “and the weather was good then, too.”

Taking in $2.5 million, “Island” was a disappointment. Territory may get a boost from “Charlie.”

(Ed Meza in Germany, Archie Thomas in London, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Esther de Prado in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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