France generated top int'l gross for Spielberg pic

The international debut of Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” dominated a moderate weekend at the foreign box office with a respectable — rather than blockbuster — $15 million at about 3,000 playdates in 30 markets.

“Munich,” which has managed a somewhat downbeat $40.5 million domestically, opened amid unfavorable Euro weather, with large parts of France and Italy reporting heavy snow and cinema closures. France still generated the top gross with $2.5 million at 437 engagements, 8% behind Spielberg’s “The Terminal,” followed by the U.K.’s $2.15 million at 350, Germany’s $1.68 million at 394 and Italy and Spain with $1.6 million each.

Other launches saw Australia with $1.4 million at 172, Mexico with $750,000 at 275 and the Netherlands with $365,000 at 71. “Munich” led in Israel with $151,000 at 30, 25% ahead of “Terminal.”

With its explosive political content presenting a marketing challenge, UIP is hoping “Munich” can capitalize on possible Oscar nominations Tuesday, along with Spielberg’s consistent record of strong overseas performance. Distrib’s expecting solid long-term playability in Europe, where most of “Munich” is set.

“Brokeback Mountain,” continuing to benefit from awards buzz in international markets, launched solidly in Australia with $1.18 million on 48 screens to rank fourth with a socko $24,700 per-screen average. “Mountain” also held well in its fourth U.K. frame with $1.25 million at 284 to lift the Brit cume to $10.8 million, while the Spanish soph sesh declined 33% to 1.1 million at 160.

Sony’s “Fun With Dick and Jane” finished a distant second to “Munich” with $9.3 million at 2,675 playdates in 41 markets, posting its top figure in its second U.K. weekend with $2.4 million at 422 engagements to edge “Munich.” “Fun” also topped “Munich” in its Italian launch with $1.9 million at 325.

“Fun” came in second in Taiwan with $545,000 at 100 sites and led in openings in Sweden with $480,000 at 57 and South Africa with $270,000 at 72. While not breaking out as a hit, the Jim Carrey laffer has delivered respectable numbers, grossing $41.6 million overseas to go along with its $106 million domestically.

BVI’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which had won five straight weekends on the foreign side, showed decent staying power with $8.5 million in 48 markets. Notable contributions came from its eighth U.K. frame with $1.1 million and its Hong Kong launch with $1 million at 50 sites.

“Narnia” is now the 12th biggest all-time grosser in the U.K. at $75 million and has eclipsed “Armageddon” as BVI’s top live-action pic overseas with $355.7 million. Its worldwide total has passed $633 million, with Japan and China not due to open until March.

“Memoirs of a Geisha,” owned by Spyglass overseas, continued to generate moderate biz with $7.6 million in about two dozen markets, pushing foreign cume past $47 million. Results were sunniest in Spain, where its soph sesh declined only 19% to $2.1 million at 208 playdates; its third U.K. frame slid 32% to $1.2 million.

BVI’s sturdy kidpic “Chicken Little” showed its legs with $6.5 million at 2,800 engagements in 36 markets, lifting the toon’s foreign cume to $125 million and the worldwide total to $258 million. “Little” was biggest in Germany as it opened in first with $2.8 million at 700, followed by a South Korean launch of $1.1 million at 180.

Fox’s day-and-date launch of “Big Momma’s House 2″ generated a decent $5.4 million at 1,026 playdates, led by $1.9 million at 300 in Spain and first-place finishes in Mexico and Australia with $1.6 million each.

BVI’s “Flightplan,” which had completed its foreign run, landed solidly in first in Japan with $5.3 million at 280 screens, 61% ahead of “Panic Room.” The Jodie Foster vehicle has hit $112 million offshore and $203 million worldwide.

UIP’s “King Kong” continued its fast fade in its seventh weekend with $3 million at 3,500 playdates in 54 markets, pushing the big gorilla’s foreign cume to $316.5 million. Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” conjured up $2.3 million at 2,400 to push its offshore total to $593.2 million after 11 weeks.

UIP’s “Jarhead” grossed $2.2 million at 1,750 to push its foreign total to $24 million. BVI’s launch of Jet Li’s Chinese-language actioner “Fearless” took advantage of the Chinese New Year with $1.9 million at 280 in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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