‘Chest’ beats the rest — again

'Pirates' reaches for more o'seas booty

The buccaneers are nearly billionaires.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” scored its eighth straight weekend victory at the foreign box office with $17.8 million at 7,387 playdates, lifting its international cume to $554.7 million and the worldwide take to $962.3 million.

The sequel is within a few days of passing “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (at $976.5 million) as the third highest worldwide grosser of all time. And it could hit the $1 billion mark by the end of next weekend, joining “Titanic” ($1.83 billion) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” ($1.13 billion) as the only pics with 10-figure worldwide cumes.

Thanks to respectable holdovers plus a record-setting Greek launch, BVI’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” took in nearly as much as the combined grosses of the next two pics, UIP’s “Miami Vice” and BVI’s “Cars.”

“Dead Man’s Chest” has kept overall late-summer foreign biz humming, finishing well above leading pics in the same frame last year (“The Island” with $9.7 million) and 2004 (“The Village” with $10.2 million).

“Chest” took its top grosses from France with $3.2 million at 750, down 40% in its sixth frame, and from Greece with an all-time best opening of $2.6 million at 195, 25% ahead of previous territorial record-holder, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

“Chest” also saw solid grosses from its fifth German frame with $2.3 million at 680, its sixth Japanese weekend with $2.2 million at 585, its third Spanish sesh with $2.1 million at 788 and its eighth U.K. weekend with $1.1 million at 450, down 33% and lifting the Brit cume to $91.5 million. The sequel also managed to generate the top launch of 2006 in war-torn Lebanon with $100,000 at 65 engagements.

The eight straight victories by “Chest” represent the longest winning streak of this century, topping the seven consecutive frames won by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl,” which grossed $653 million worldwide in 2003. Its final major foreign opening comes Sept. 15 in Italy.

“Miami Vice” stole some thunder from “Pirates” with $11.4 million at 3,000 playdates in 38 markets. Best perfs came from Germany with a first-place launch of $4 million at 437 for a 30% share, and from its French soph sesh with $2.1 million at 637, down 50%. Its Brazilian opening finished second behind the second frame of “Click” with $610,000 at 146.

“Vice,” which opens in Japan next weekend, has cumed $52 million offshore and $114 million worldwide.

“Cars” continued to show traction with $9.6 million at 3,300, mostly from muscular launches in Italy, with $5.2 million at 555, and in China, with $1.2 million at 135, plus a fourth Brit frame of $1.1 million at 435. It was the fourth-best toon opening for Italy and the top animated debut in China.

“Cars” has cumed $157.6 million overseas and $398 million worldwide. With Germany opening Sept. 7, the Pixar toon’s on track to become the seventh pic to top $200 million in foreign grosses this year, joining “Dead Man’s Chest,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “X-Men 3” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Another family entry, Fox’s “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties” continued to put its paws on moderate foreign coin with $7.2 million at 5,000 playdates in 20 markets, with the top perf from Spain with $3.1 million at 415 in its first five days. Sequel’s foreign cume has hit $77.6 million, lifting the worldwide take to $106 million.

Sony’s “Monster House” scared up $5.8 million at 2,500 screens in two dozen markets, with lukewarm launches in France with $1.4 million at 400 and Russia with $860,000 at 260, plus a chilly German opening of $525,000 at 300. Foreign cume has hit $29.1 million and worldwide take has topped $98 million.

Warner’s “Lady in the Water” showed some life with $4.5 million from 1,400 prints, mostly from a Spanish opening of $1.8 million at 325 and its French opening of $1.5 million at 408. “Lady,” which opens next weekend in Brazil and Germany, has cumed $10 million overseas and $52 million worldwide.

UIP’s “You, Me and Dupree” performed respectably with $4.3 million at 851 in eight markets, mostly from its first-place U.K. launch with $3 million at 406 for a 22% share. “Dupree,” which opens next frame in Mexico, has $13 million offshore for an $87 million worldwide total.

Warner’s “Superman Returns” remained on a moderate flight with $3.3 million from 2,500 prints, led by a second Japanese frame that declined 32% to fourth with $1.5 million at 490. Pic, which opens next weekend in Italy, has cumed $173 million offshore and $368 million worldwide.

UIP’s “The Break-Up” yukked it up to land $3.3 million at 1,400 engagements in 46 territories, lifting its foreign total to $67 million and its worldwide to $185 million. Distrib’s “United 93” took in $3 million at 1,000 in 25 markets, including a decent fourth-place launch in Spain with $1 million at 120, to push its international total to $24 million and its worldwide to $55 million.

Sony’s “Click” grossed $2.8 million at 1,100 in 28 territories, led by a first-place second frame in Mexico, with $1.3 million at 416, for a foreign cume of $30.3 million. UIP’s “Over the Hedge” added $2 million at 2,370 to lift its international total to $154.5 million, matching its domestic cume.

Summit scored first place for its “Step Up” launch in Holland with $472,000 at 49, ousting “Pirates” after six weeks.

Five other pics hit seven figures — Fox’s “The Sentinel” with $1.9 million at 1,200; Warner’s “Lake House” with $1.8 million at 1,350 for a foreign cume of $44 million; UIP’s “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” with $1.6 million at 1,530 for an international total of $83.5 million; Fox’s “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” with $1.3 million at 970; and UIP’s “Nacho Libre” with $1 million at 850.

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