'Munich,' 'Crash,' 'Brokeback' shine overseas

Steven Spielberg’s Oscar contender “Munich” continues to post respectable rather than blockbuster returns offshore.

Meanwhile, two other Oscar best pic nominees — “Crash” and “Brokeback Mountain” — have performed well internationally.

Among Hollywood films at the international box office, “Munich” scored its third straight weekend victory, taking in $11 million at 3,600 playdates in 49 markets.

French comedy sequel “Friends Forever” turned in the most impressive foreign numbers, dominating that market’s box office with $14.3 million at 950 sites with 1.9 million admissions during the Wednesday-Sunday period. Pic, reuniting the cast of the first two pics from the late 1970s, has caught fire in France with a socko $43.2 million in a dozen days.

Known locally as “Les Bronzes 3: Amis pour la vie,” pic has outperformed the soph seshes of such hits as “Taxi 2″ and “Les Visiteurs 2.” Warner Bros. France paid $12 million for French distribution rights to “Friends Forever” along with $1.8 million for P&A; pic was produced by Les Films Christian Fechner, TF1 Films and TPS Cinema.

By comparison, “Munich” grossed $880,000 from 450 engagements in the third weekend in France, declining 38% for a 17-day cume of $5.8 million — one-seventh of the “Friends Forever” total.

South Korea generated the top numbers for UIP’s “Munich” with a third-place launch of $2.1 million at 172 playdates, 12% behind the opening for “The Terminal.” “Munich” also opened in second in Hong Kong with $205,000 at 21 locations and in Sweden with $160,000 at 45.

Japan’s second frame for “Munich” generated $1 million, down 21%, followed by Germany’s third weekend of $920,000, off 40%. Similar declines hit other European markets with the U.K. off 44%, Spain down 40% and Italy sliding 45%.

“Munich” hasn’t ignited in any market; its top foreign numbers have come from the U.K., with $6.6 million in three weeks, indicating “Munich” will fall well short of Spielberg’s previous pics.

Still, “Munich” is by far the best overseas performer among this year’s Oscar best pic nominees, with $52 million, exceeding its domestic total by $8 million.

Among best picture candidates, “Brokeback Mountain” follows with $39 million, including $5 million from 19 markets over the weekend, led by Spain, with $675,000 at 190 in its fourth weekend, and the U.K., with $650,000 at 272 in its sixth frame. Of the other three nominees, “Crash” has ended its foreign run with $30 million; “Good Night, and Good Luck” has about $9 million from Australia, France and Italy and expands to the U.K. and Spain next weekend; and “Capote” will launch offshore next weekend.

With specialty titles dominating Oscar prospects this year, foreign returns from best pic candidates will come in far below last year’s results, when the five nominees (“Million Dollar Baby,” “The Aviator,” “Finding Neverland,” “Ray” and “Sideways”) generated $385 million overseas.

Echoing their year-end battle domestically, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” has come out on top overseas vs. “King Kong.” BVI’s “Narnia” added $3 million to lift its foreign take to $372.1 million and worldwide cume to $657 million. UIP’s ape pic has run out of gas, taking in $650,000 at 800 playdates for a total of $324.7 million over 61 days internationally. It’s earned $540 million worldwide.

With no dominant film, the frame saw a larger-than-usual number of openings from a wide variety of commercial pics, such as Fox’s day-and-date launches for “The Pink Panther,” which won with $1.3 million at 436 sites in Mexico and $339,578 in Puerto Rico.

BVI’s “Chicken Little” finished a close second to “Munich” with $10 million at 2,934 engagements in 32 markets, lifting the sturdy toon’s foreign cume to nearly $150 million and its worldwide total to $284 million. “Little” was biggest in Blighty with a launch of $5.3 million at 485, easily topping the day-and-date launch of “Final Destination 3″ with $3.5 million.

Fox’s “Walk the Line” continued to generate benefits from its five Oscar noms, taking in $7 million at 1,218 playdates in its soph sesh, finishing first in Australia with $1.36 million at 253 and in New Zealand in its launch with $209,342 at 50. Its “Big Momma’s House 2″ saw similar biz with $6 million at 1,257, with half coming from the laffer’s third-place U.K. opening.

Sony’s “Fun With Dick and Jane” remained a moderate foreign performer with $5.7 million at 2,675 screens in 50 markets, led by a first-place launch in Spain with $1.1 million at 318. “Fun” has grossed $62 million overseas and $171 million worldwide.

Spyglass’ “Memoirs of a Geisha,” with five Oscar noms, continued to generate interest in offshore markets with $5.2 million, pushing the film’s international take to nearly $71 million.

BVI’s unique offshore launch of “Bambi II,” which has been released only on DVD Stateside, continued to generate decent numbers with $3.6 million for four markets to boost the kidpic’s two-week cume to $9 million. French grosses rose 10% to $2.2 million at 576.

UIP’s “Pride & Prejudice,” with four Oscar noms, grossed $3.5 million at 1,300 playdates in 25 territories to life the international total to $62.7 million. Distrib’s “Nanny McPhee” took in $3 million from 1,100 sites in a dozen territories.

UIP’s “Jarhead” grossed $2.4 million at 1,250 playdates in 38 territories, led by a $1.1 million opening in Oz. BVI’s “Derailed” took in $2.4 million in 16 markets and its “Flightplan” landed with $2.3 million in Japan to raise that market’s total to $17 million in three weeks.

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