'Dukes' generates respectable returns in Blighty

A correction was made to this article on Aug. 29, 2005.

Compensating for a disappointing domestic performance, “The Island” won its third straight foreign box office crown with $9.7 million at more than 4,800 screens in 48 markets during a moderate weekend. Michael Bay’s sci-fi actioner crossed the $100 million milestone in offshore grosses.

The solid foreign returns for “The Island,” starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, underscore the growing importance of international markets to support big-budget studio tentpoles. Foreign cume for “The Island,” handled offshore by Warner Bros., has hit $101.6 million — nearly triple the $35 million Stateside gross for DreamWorks.

“The Island” led in launches in Italy, Greece and Sweden, while its soph sesh in France and third frame in Mexico topped those markets. Top contribution came from France, with $2.2 million at 640 playdates for a 38% drop and a $7 million cume.

Italian moviegoers opted for “The Island” with $1.65 million at 332 sites to rank ahead of the launch of “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.” The Greek opening of $506,000 at 73 surpassed “Batman Begins” by 4%, while Sweden debuted with $320,600 at 88.

“The Island” has delivered a spectacular $20.9 million in South Korea, where the film opened day-and-date with the domestic release six weeks ago. Other key markets have tallied solid numbers: $8.1 million in Spain, $7.7 million in the U.K., $7.6 million in Germany and $5.2 million in Mexico.

“The Island” looks likely to remain a factor overseas for several more frames: It opens next weekend in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Turkey. The combo of its solid offshore take in the wake of its downbeat domestic perf mirrors another recent big-budget actioner, Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” which took in $34 million domestically and $133 million overseas.

The weekend represented the third straight session that “The Island” topped Warner’s family powerhouse “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which grossed a still-tasty $7.7 million at 3,500-plus screens in 39 markets. Tim Burton’s fantasy-comedy has cumed $126.8 million overseas for a worldwide total of $324 million.

“Charlie” took in more than half its weekend total from a pair of holdover markets in their second month — the U.K., where its $1.9 million finished behind the launch of “The Dukes of Hazzard”; and in France, where its seventh weekend was up 15% to $1.9 million. Brit cume has hit $58 million, making “Charlie” the fourth highest Warner release in that market.

BVI’s “Herbie: Fully Loaded” continued to show moderate traction, with $5.5 million, lifting foreign cume to $59 million. Top takings came from a $1.4 million Italo launch.

Sony’s “Bewitched” and UIP’s “War of the Worlds” each took in $5 million for the weekend. “Bewitched” launched in third in Japan with $1.6 million at 314 playdates, and in South Korea with $1 million at 122; its U.K. soph sesh declined 36% to $1.2 million at 404, and its second Mexican frame was off 37% to $435,000.

“War of the Worlds” took in more than two-thirds of its weekend gross from its China launch, with $3.5 million, including previews. “War” has cumed $345 million overseas.

Overall, offshore biz was typically mild for the late summer, with the top five pics — “The Island,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Herbie,” “Bewitched” and “War of the Worlds” — combining for $32.9 million. That was $8.7 million behind the total of the top five in the same 2004 frame: “The Village” with $10.2 million, “Garfield: The Movie” with $9.7 million, “King Arthur” with $7.8 million, “The Bourne Supremacy” with $7.7 million and “Chronicles of Riddick” with $6.2 million.

Warner’s foreign launch of “The Dukes of Hazzard” looked lukewarm with $4.6 million at more than 1,200 sites in five markets. “Dukes” generated respectable returns in Blighty, where the comedy-actioner led with $3.1 million, but results were mild elsewhere: $545,500 in France, $413,000 in Mexico, $287,000 at 250 in Spain and $23,000 from three prints in Iceland.

UIP’s “The Skeleton Key” scared up a moderate $4.4 million at 1,400 playdates in 24 territories for an international cume of $22.4 million. Best results came from a soph sesh in Germany with $1.1 million at 292, off 30% from its debut.

UIP’s sturdy “Madagascar,” nearing the end of its run, took in another $3.9 million at 3,228 sites to push the foreign total to $276.3 million. Best perf came from Germany, with $550,000 in its seventh frame, lifting that market total to $40.4 million.

Fox’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” remained first in Spain in its second frame with $2.4 million at 465 engagements. Foreign cume in Fox markets has hit $156 million.

Fox also reported a still-impressive eighth weekend in Japan for “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” with $1.3 million, down 29%, to lift that market cume to $75 million. “Sith” is far and away the top film of 2005, with $457.4 million overseas and $837 million worldwide.

In Brazil, Sony’s local drama “Two Children of Francisco” again topped the market, with $1.2 million at 290, up 29%, for a territorial cume of $2.9 million.

Sony saw modest foreign takings for “Stealth,”with $1.9 million at 804 sites in 20 markets, including a French launch of $1.2 million at 411, and a Thai opening of $450,000 at 109. Foreign cume has hit $18.2 million to go along with $31 million Stateside.

Sony’s “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” scored only lightly in Europe, with openings of $850,000 at 277 sites in Spain, and $200,000 at 101 Italian engagements. Spanish takings were 15% higher than the original.

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