‘Casino’ hits the jackpot o’seas

Bond shakes up biz around the world

James Bond returned with a bang at the international box office as “Casino Royale” dominated the weekend with $42.2 million at 3,063 playdates in 27 markets.

“Casino” hit the jackpot in its U.K. launch with $25.6 million at 988, including $3.7 million in previews. Its Friday-Sunday take tied “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” as the second-highest weekend launch in Brit history, trailing only “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

With Daniel Craig in his first turn as Bond, the Blighty opening handily topped the previous Bond pic, “Die Another Day,” by 46%.

“Casino Royale” took in more than the combined foreign grosses of the next four pics — “Borat,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Open Season.” Combined with its second-place domestic take, “Casino” totaled $82.8 million worldwide for the weekend.

Given the strong international track record of recent Bond pics — with foreign gross accounting for nearly two-thirds of worldwide box office — “Casino Royale” looks poised for potent offshore biz that could eclipse the $271 million mark set by “Die Another Day” four years ago. Sony has opted to wait until next weekend to launch “Casino Royale” in other major European markets, including France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Sweden.

In the second-largest “Casino” take, Russian B.O. Bonded with $3.8 million at 633 — the eighth-largest launch for a non-Russian pic.

“Casino” set a record in India with $3.2 million at 427, beating “Spider-Man 2’s” opening by 87% for biggest debut of a non-Indian pic.

Greece led the rest of the “Casino” territories with $1.34 million at 111, followed by Thailand with $1.1 million at 154, Taiwan with $1 million at 116, Singapore with $900,000, Malaysia with $800,000, Poland with $735,000 and the UAE with $635,000 — the second largest launch in that market.

Despite the impressive start for “Casino,” overall biz lagged the same frame of 2005, when “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” opened with $80 million. But foreign box office for the five major distribs (BVI, Fox, Sony, UIP, Warner) remains well ahead of the 2005 pace and should finish the year ahead of the 2004 record of $8.5 billion.

Fox’s “Borat,” which had won the past two overseas frames, finished a distant but decent second with $13.9 million at 1,900 in 25 markets. The spoof has grossed $63.6 million overseas and $154 million worldwide.

Best “Borat” perfs came from holdovers, with Brit biz at $4.6 million at 450, down 46%, and German takings at $2.2 million at 412, off only 19%. Its French launch grossed a respectable $2.1 million at 269, leading in Paris and its suburbs, while the Spanish opening finished fourth with $1.3 million and the Norwegian debut won with $695,000 at 46.

“Borat” should continue to show traction in foreign markets, thanks to solid holdover biz. Austria, Belgium, Holland, Finland and Sweden all saw weekend-to-weekend declines of less than 20%.

Warner’s “The Departed” led the rest of the pack with $6.9 million at 2,337 in 37 markets. Best numbers for Martin Scorsese’s star-laden thriller came from its fourth Spanish frame with $1 million at 335, off 21%, and from a second-place Mexican launch with $840,000 at 350. Pic opened in first place in Argentina, with $354,000 at 55, and New Zealand, with $280,000 at 63.

Fox’s “The Devil Wears Prada” showed staying power with $6.2 million at 3,000 in 39 markets, led by a second-place Japanese launch with $1.8 million at 302. Comedy has totaled $172.3 million overseas and $297 million worldwide.

Sony toon “Open Season” remained a moderate draw among family audiences with $6 million at 3,855 in 51 markets, led by solid soph seshes in Spain, down 21% at $1.4 million, and Germany, off 31% at $1.3 million. “Season” has cumed $70.8 million overseas and $154 million worldwide.

“Saw III” scared up $5.5 million at 1,600 in 20 markets, led by a Spanish soph sesh of $1.5 million at 295 and its fourth U.K. frame with $900,000. Foreign “Saw III” takings have totaled $33.3 million, lifting the worldwide gross to $108 million.

“The Prestige” continued to conjure midsized biz for Warner Bros. with $4.2 million at 1,524 in 22 markets, led by a first-place Australian launch of $1.1 million at 198 and a third-place soph sesh in the U.K. with $1.1 million at 230.

Mirroring its slow domestic perf, Fox’s “A Good Year” grossed $3.8 million at 1,600 in 23 markets.

Warner’s local thriller “Death Note: The Last Name” stayed powerful in Japan with a first-place $3.4 million at 294, pushing the three-week cume to $26 million, and German comedy sequel “7 Dwarves 2” stayed a player in Europe for UIP with $2.6 million at 830 in four markets for a $26.6 million cume.

Warner Bros. held back domestic winner “Happy Feet” from all but three markets — Taiwan with $325,000 at 104, Puerto Rico with $295,000 at 69 and Malaysia with $247,000 at 46. “Feet” moves into Brazil next weekend, Germany on Nov. 30 and most other markets by Christmas.

Warner’s continued to see moderate overseas biz for Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” with $1.6 million at 1,100 in 11 territories. “Flags” has cumed $16.5 million overseas, led by $8.8 million in Japan after four weeks.

UIP’s “Miami Vice” hit the $99 million mark overseas, thanks to $3 million from two weeks in China. “Vice” has cumed $162 million worldwide.

Seven other UIP pics took in more than $1 million — “Children of Men” with $1.7 million at 750; “World Trade Center” with $1.4 million at 1,511; “Step Up” with $1.3 million at 512; “You, Me and Dupree” with $1.2 million; “Flushed Away” with $1.1 million at 383; “Barnyard” with $1.1 million at 1,362; and “Babel” with $1.1 million at 289.

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