'Lion' makes monkey out of 'Kong' in foreign markets

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” topped “King Kong” for the fourth consecutive frame internationally, with $20.1 million at 7,870 playdates in 48 markets.

The family-friendly adventure topped “Kong” by $5 million and lifted BVI’s offshore total for “Narnia” to $319 million, widening its foreign lead over “Kong” to $25 million.

Worldwide cume for “Narnia” is nearing $580 million — about $80 million ahead of the big gorilla.

With $200.2 million of its foreign gross taken in by Dec. 31, “Narnia” is now the first title to accumulate more than $100 million in grosses during 2006. Its top numbers came from the U.K. with $2.4 million at 489 playdates, lifting its Blighty cume to $70.7 million to make it the second-largest BVI title in that market after “Toy Story 2.”

“Narnia” also topped seven figures in its fourth Australian frame with $1.8 million at 285, in its third South Korean weekend with $1.6 million and its Polish soph sesh with $1 million at 150. And it opened impressively in Turkey with $890,000, the biggest BVI launch in a market that’s seen significant improvement recently in its exhibition structure.

“Narnia” held well in Argentina with a 38% decline from its record opening to $712,000, outgrossing the next four pics by 50%. And after six weeks in Mexico, it’s become the fifth highest grosser of all time with $21.2 million.

“King Kong” remained a major player with $15 million at 6,990 playdates in 57 markets, led by a solid $3.1 million opening at 315 engagements in China. The launch, representing the final foreign territory for “Kong,” marked the best debut for a Universal picture in that market.

Best holdover “Kong” numbers came from the U.K. with $2.3 million at 438, off 33% for a 32-day cume of $48.9 million. But other key markets were under $1 million, including Japan with $885,000 at 300, Germany with $765,000 at 578 and Australia with $644,000 at 205. 

Over the past nine weekends, the foreign box office has received a major boost thanks to “Kong,” “Narnia” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” with combined international grosses near $1.2 billion. “Goblet” dominated for four straight frames, followed by “Kong” winning its opening weekend and “Narnia” taking four straight seshes.

In its ninth weekend, Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” conjured up $6.6 million at 4,650 sites in 56 markets to lift international cume to $582.5 million and its worldwide total to $866 million — matching “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” for second among the Potter pics. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” remains the top grosser of the quartet, with more than $960 million worldwide.

Overall biz generated solid numbers compared with the same frame a year ago when “Alexander” was the only pic in eight figures with $14.5 million. With the big three pics having spent at least a month in most markets, distribs began stepping up the pace of counterprogramming launches such as “Jarhead” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”

UIP made the biggest splash with “Jarhead” opening in 18 markets, taking in a respectable $8.5 million in 27 territories. Top launches came from the U.K., where the war drama led with $3.5 millon at 390 playdates and a 20% share, and in France with $1.4 million at 338.

“Jarhead,” a moderate performer Stateside with $62 million, has cumed $14 million internationally and will launch next weekend in Russia.

BVI opened “Memoirs of a Geisha” in the U.K. with a decent $1.8 million at 242 engagements, while Sony took in $1.5 million at 236 screens in seven markets, led by victories in Taiwan with $670,000 at 90 and in Hong Kong with $290,000 at 21.

Sony’s “Fun With Dick and Jane” showed moderate traction with $5.25 million at 1,502 screens in 17 markets, led by a Mexican launch of $1.9 million at 418 for Jim Carrey’s second-biggest opening in that market.

BVI’s “Chicken Little” continued to tap family audiences with $3.6 million at 3,036 screens in 38 markets, led by $1.5 million in Japan in its fourth frame. Toon’s Japanese cume of $20.6 million has topped “King Kong” by $3 million; total foreign take has hit $114.4 million.

Fox’s “Cheaper by the Dozen 2″ generated $2.7 million to boost foreign cume to $29 million, while its “The Family Stone” grossed $2.2 million to push its international take to $22.2 million. Fox’s local production “Se Eu Fosse Voce” led in Brazil in its soph sesh with $1 million at 191 for a $3.6 million cume.

“Brokeback Mountain” continued to perform well in the U.K. with $2.2 million at 275 in its second frame. The critical fave will see openings this weekend in France, Italy, Spain and Taiwan.

UIP took in another $2 million from 11 markets for “Pride & Prejudice,” including $700,000 in its Japanese launch to lift the international cume to $47 million. And UIP’s foreign launch of “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ “ gunned $1.45 million at 280 German locations to finish second.

Sony saw moderate results in its Australian launch for “The Producers with $1.3 million at 197 playdates, while its U.K. second frame plunged 60% to $280,000 at 196. UIP saw similar results in Oz with its opening of “Nanny McPhee” with $1.3 million at 217.

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