Oscar-winning pix ready to cash in o’seas

'Fockers' still champ o'seas for the 4th weekend in a row

“Million Dollar Baby” and “Sideways” were well-positioned at the overseas box office to cash in on Oscar wins, while “The Aviator” could also see a nice bump, although it’s been running for four to five weeks or longer in some major markets.

In contrast to “Sideways'” platform launches in other territories, Fox rolled out Alexander Payne’s whimsical pic Feb. 18 on more than 160 prints apiece in Spain and Italy. Italo exhibs said its per-screen average wasn’t terrific but they think it will have legs, with or without Oscar’s help.

“The film is well-liked; it will last,” opined one booker. “We like to talk about wine, about life in the country. Also, the fear of marriage vs. being doomed to life as a single resounds with Italians. And it’s funny: we like to be made to laugh.”

Conversely, one programmer in Spain questioned the wisdom of such a broad release, suggesting the pic is caught in a “no man’s land” between being a minority- and majority-appeal item.

Road trip opened OK on 12 prints in Sweden but bombed on 50 in South Korea, and was buoyed by word of mouth in its second sojourn in France, its third in Germany and its fourth in the U.K. and Australia. It’s racked up a decent $15 million in 43 markets.

“Million Dollar Baby” bowed strongly in Italy and was No. 1 in Portugal but was fighting out of its class in Mexico, where auds embraced “Hitch.” Clint Eastwood’s poignant drama has grossed about $20 million in 15 countries, a solid performer in Spain and Oz and passable in the U.K.

The champ overseas for the fourth weekend in a row, “Meet the Fockers” rang up $28.5 million from mostly top-ranked debuts in nine markets and holdovers in 30. Its cume through Feb. 22 vaulted to $159.5 million, seemingly heading for around $250 million. Jay Roach-helmed laffer eclipsed the bows of “Meet the Parents” in Germany, Belgium, Austria and Hungary, but was just fractionally better in France, where it trailed the soph sesh of Gallic laffer “Iznogoud.” “Fockers” easily retained pole position in its second stanza in Italy and its fourth in the U.K., where “In Good Company” proved to be lousy company in its offshore preem.

One German exhib said Ben Stiller’s popularity is rocketing and folks were clamoring for the chance to see Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro together. Receipts in Germany jumped by 37%, also fueled by local tyke pic “The Wild Bunch 2,” a kind of “Bad News Bears” on the soccer field, which benefited from the original’s success on homevideo after a moderately good theatrical showing.

Catering for the action crowd and Keanu Reeves’ numerous admirers, “Constantine” reigned in Spain and the Philippines and posted nifty numbers in Germany and France. In Germany, the supernatural detective saga didn’t open quite as well as “Blade: Trinity,” the exhib noted. But, he added, “There is a loyal fan base for these films.”

Warners’ pic experienced typically steep drops for the genre in its second weekends but has pocketed tidy sums in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong; its cume levitated to $33.7 million in 14 markets.

“Shall We Dance” drew plenty of Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez followers in the U.K., sending its cume to $74.7 million, with Japan and Belgium ahead; romantic comedy grossed a mere $58 million domestically.

“The Aviator” flew to $77.4 million, bolstered by nifty debuts in South Korea, Hong Kong and Venezuela and its second turns in Australia and Brazil. Martin Scorsese’s epic has been a steady earner throughout Europe and with a bit of luck Sunday night, and with Japan and Russia ahead, could hit $100 million.

“Finding Neverland” ascended to $42.7 million in 30 markets and will soon overtake domestic’s $45.7 million. Johnny Depp starrer fell quite sharply in its second adventure in Germany but held much better in its second in Spain and its third Italy, where it’s drawing families.

To no great surprise, domestic dud “Spanglish” bombed in Spain, released with subtitles, which auds don’t like, as dubbing wasn’t an option. Adam Sandler/Paz Vega vehicle didn’t fare much better Down Under, where femmes kicked up their heels at “Bride and Prejudice” and males turned out for “House of Flying Daggers.” Zhang Yimou-helmed actioner has captured a dashing $76 .3 million, with Latin America ahead.

Exhibs in Spain were thrilled with the response to “Downfall,” the German pic which recounts the final days of Adolf Hitler, and opined it deserved to go out on more than 92 prints. One enthused, “It’s a good movie, it’s European and people believe in it.”

In a weak frame in Japan, “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera” commanded the top spot again in its fourth refrain, boosting its offshore cume to $83.2 million, dwarfing domestic’s $47.6 million.

“Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” was the victor in Finland, beating fellow frosh “Meet the Fockers” and No. 1 again in its second romps in Sweden and Norway; like its predecessors, Disney’s toon is tracking far better abroad than at home.

(Sheri Jennings in Rome, Ed Meza in Berlin, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Norma Nebot in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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