'Casino' hits int'l jackpot

Dominating international business, “Casino Royale” broke the bank at the overseas box office with $66.2 million at 6,600 playdates in 50 markets.

James Bond pic wiped out rivals via a strong second U.K. frame plus socko launches throughout Western Europe as it led in every new market, and posted the sixth-biggest weekend of 2006 internationally with an impressive per-location average of about $10,000.

The film saw offshore cume hit $128.2 million and worldwide grosses total $222.4 million.

“Casino” took in more than double the combined grosses of the next four pics — “Borat,” “The Departed,” “Saw III” and “Open Season.” “Casino” looks likely to surpass the record worldwide gross for a Bond pic of $431 million, set by “Die Another Day” four years ago, thanks to two factors — no other tentpoles of similar magnitude will hit international markets soon and openings are still coming in big markets Japan, South Korea, Australia, Italy and Mexico.

“Casino” also will likely keep the 2006 foreign box office total for the five major distribs (BVI, Fox, Sony, UIP, Warner) on track to exceed the 2004 record of $8.5 billion and finish far ahead of last year’s $7.9 billion.

It showed significant staying power in the U.K. with $16.6 million at 991, down only 24% from its opening weekend. The Brit cume has hit $53.6 million, a mere $3.7 million short of matching “Die Another Day” for top perf by a Bond pic in his home turf.

Germans gave solid support to “Casino” with $12 million at 1,180, in line with forecasts that predicted a launch similar to the $12.9 million opening for “The Da Vinci Code.”

France followed with $8.4 million at 823, Spain debuted with $4 million at 500, and Switzerland bowed with $3 million at 161 — the third-highest launch of all time in that market.

Scandinavia combined for $6.7 million for the Bond pic, led by Denmark with $2.5 million at 101, Sweden with $2.1 million at 133, Norway with $1.5 million at 98 and Finland with $780,000 at 60.

“Casino” also cashed in impressively in Holland, opening with $1.8 million at 133, followed by Austria with $1.6 million at 129 and Belgium with $1.5 million at 95. And Russian holdover biz stayed respectable with $2.8 million at 630, down 47%, and in India with $1.4 million at 427, off 56% in what’s been the widest launch ever for a non-Bollywood pic in that market.

Thanks to “Casino Royale,” Sony’s posted its best year ever in overseas box office with $1.39 billion, surpassing the 2002 mark of $1.31 billion. “The Da Vinci Code” accounted for $532 million in foreign takings earlier this year.

Rivals mostly avoided going head to head with “Casino Royale.” For example, BVI launched “Deja vu” only in Mexico — a non-Bond market until Dec. 7 — and the Denzel Washington starrer led with $1.1 million at 400, topping the third frame of “Babel” and “Children of Men.”

Fox’s “Borat” finished a distant but decent second with $15 million at 1,900 playdates as the offbeat spoof launched in first in Australia with $4.6 million at 291 and in New Zealand with $459,000 at 60, following a promo tour by Sacha Baron Cohen.

“Borat” padded its U.K. total with $2.8 million at 440, lifting the Brit cume to $40.4 million, and took in $1.3 million at 269 in its French soph sesh. “Borat” has totaled $86 million overseas and $195 million worldwide, with openings still coming in Italy and South Korea.

Warner’s star-laden “The Departed” remained a player with $7 million at 2,100 in 42 markets, led by a South Korean launch of $1.7 million and a Greek opening of $829,000, which topped the soph sesh of “Casino Royale.”

The Martin Scorsese crime thriller has cumed $79 million overseas and $195 million worldwide.

Lionsgate’s “Saw III” continued to scare up biz overseas with $5.6 million at 1,840 in two dozen markets, as it finished second in France in its launch, third place in Brazil and fourth in Spain in its third frame. Foreign total has hit $42 million, while the worldwide take is $120 million.

Family audiences gave modest support to Sony’s “Open Season” with $4 million at 3,040 in 49 markets, lifting the overseas cume to $76.5 million, and to BVI’s “The Santa Clause 3″ with $3.7 million at 1,000 in seven markets.

“Clause 3″ opened with a respectable $2.7 million at 350 in the U.K., 40% better than “The Santa Clause 2.”

And Warner Bros. saw solid returns for its foreign launches of domestic hit “Happy Feet” with $3.4 million at 750 in eight markets, led by first-place openings in Brazil and the Philippines. “Feet” opens next frame in Germany and Italy.

Warner’s release of local thriller “Death Note: The Last Name” stayed sensational in Japan with a fourth consecutive first-place finish with $2.6 million at 334, down only 27%, for a $32.8 million cume. Fox’s sturdy “The Devil Wears Prada” added $2.5 million at 2,482 to lift foreign gross to $180 million and worldwide take to $305 million.

Fox’s “A Good Year” stayed soft with $2 million at 2,936 to lift overseas gross to $16 million. UIP reported five pics topping $1 million — “Jackass Number Two” with $1.9 million at 631; “Barnyard” with $1.5 million at 1,239; “Seven Dwarfs 2″ with $1.5 million at 825; “Children of Men” with $1.4 million at 950; and “Flushed Away” with $1.2 million at 583.

Fox’s “Deck the Halls” opened mildly in Brazil and Taiwan with $738,000, while its launch of “The Fountain” was quiet in the same two markets with $200,000 at 90.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more