Thriller flies over family films in foreign B.O.

In a rare victory for adult fare, Jodie Foster’s “Flightplan” soared past rivals to easily win the weekend at a moderate foreign box office, with $15.2 million at 3,484 playdates in 39 markets.

BVI’s expansion of the thriller into a quintet of major markets — Australia, France, Russia, South Korea and Spain — clicked with offshore patrons after two and a half months of dominance by family pics such as “Madagascar,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “The Legend of Zorro.”

The frame represented the first time that a family film hasn’t won since “The Island” took the final August weekend.

“Flightplan,” which has been a solid domestic performer, with $87 million in two months, finished first in 15 markets and has cumed $60 million overseas. It posted its best figure in Spain with $2.5 million at 303 engagements, besting the combined grosses of the next four entries and topping the launch for Foster’s “Panic Room” by 25%.

“Flightplan” also led in France, with $2.2 million at 500 engagements, 22% ahead of “Panic Room”  despite ongoing street violence and curfews. South Korea turned in a solid $2.1 million at 120 in the eighth-best BVI launch ever in that market; Australia grossed $1.6 million at 270, topping the combined grosses of the next four films; and Russia opened with $705,000 at 160, double the “Panic Room” launch.

“Flightplan” holdover biz also chipped in with an Italian soph sesh of $1.4 million at 321 and a fourth frame in Germany with $1.2 million, lifting the Teuton cume to $12.7 million.

Sony/Spyglass’s third frame of “The Legend of Zorro” remained a significant player, with $10.2 million at 5,300 sites in 65 markets to lift its overseas total to $74 million — nearly double the domestic cume. Best numbers for the sequel continued to come from France, where biz declined just 25% to $2 million at 631 for a $13.2 million total.

Spanish “Zorro” grosses fell 43% to $1 million at 372, pushing that market’s cume to $6.7 million, followed by $810,000 in the U.K. and $800,000 in Germany. South Africa saw a first-place launch, with $190,000 at 80; remaining markets to open include Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

With exhibitors expecting massive response next weekend to Warner’s opening of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” distribs opted for targeted launches such as  Fox debuting “In Her Shoes” in eight markets. The Cameron Diaz vehicle kicked in $6.5 million at 1,600 playdates, lifting the foreign cume to $12.9 million and worldwide take to $44 million.

“In Her Shoes” grossed more than half its weekend take from two markets — the U.K., with $2.3 million at 324, to finish a close second to UIP hit “Nanny McPhee”; and in Germany with $1.8 million at 407. “Shoes” showed modest traction in Japan, traditionally a tough market for U.S. comedies, with $631,000 at 227 and in Italy with $450,000 at 195.

Overall biz was middling, with the top three pics combining for $32 million — well short of the same frame of 2004 when “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” led with $26.6 million, followed by “Shall We Dance” with $8 million and “Seven Dwarfs” with $6.5 million.

BVI’s “Chicken Little” scared up a respectable $6.4 million at 1,634 playdates in a dozen markets, pushing the toon’s foreign cume to $15 million. Distrib, which has opted for a gradual international launch, generated its biggest “Little” returns in its Mexican soph sesh, with $2.4 million at 600, declining only 25% for a $6.6 million territorial cume.

Openings of “Chicken Little” took first in Brazil with $715,000 and in Belgium with $540,000, equal to the “Madagascar” launch in the latter market.

UIP’s “Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” continued to perform decently overseas with $5.5 million to lift the foreign cume past $115 million, more than doubling the disappointing domestic total. U.K. takings for the claymation toon stayed stellar in their fifth frame with $2 million at 495, down 30% to push the Blighty cume to $53.5 million — less than $1 million short of the Stateside take.

Warner’s “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” showed moderate life, with $5.45 million at 2,586 playdates in 28 markets to push its offshore cume to $53 million and worldwide gross to $105 million. Top performances have come from France with $9.2 million, the U.K. with $8.2 million and Japan with $7.1 million.

UIP’s “Elizabethtown,” mirroring its modest domestic run, took in $5.2 million at 2,321 locations in 24 markets for a foreign cume of $13.5 million. Its Japanese opening generated a moderate $850,000 at 300 in fourth place.

Sony’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” scared up $4.7 million at 940 sites in 26 territories,  led by a Mexican launch of $2.1 million at 345 and a Greek opening of $480,000 at 30. “Emily,” which has cumed $12.6 million offshore, opens in Spain and Russia next weekend.

UIP’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” scored $3.4 million at 1,500 sites in three dozen markets, led by its French opening, to hit $51.2 million internationally. Distrib also reported “The Constant Gardener” harvested $2.6 million at 635 in five markets, including a fourth-place launch of $1.8 million at 301 in the U.K.

BVI’s “Brothers Grimm” opened with $1.2 million at 300 in Italy to lift its foreign cume to $48 million. Warner’s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” shot up $1.3 million at 460 screens in 11 markets, led by $767,000 at 157 in the U.K.

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