Disney scores its second-best Gaul opening

A food-obsessed French rat couldn’t edge out a fish named Nemo, but he still did mighty well for himself.

The launch of Disney-Pixar toon “Ratatouille” in Gaul over the Aug. 3 frame scored the Mouse House its second-best opening ever in that country, after Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.”

“Ratatouille,” set in Paris and chronicling the travails of a gastronomically correct rodent named Remy, made $11.4 million from 721 runs, beating out holdover “The Simpsons Movie.”

Disney-Pixar toon also led in its Spain launch, cooking up $3.5 million. Pic is expected to have good staying power, although it will have to compete in coming weeks with the launches of Fox’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and Sony toon “Surf’s Up.”

Internationally, the toon was No. 4, taking in a total of $24.5 million from 4,320 playdates in 26 markets for a cume of $83.3 million. Disney international execs are pleased with the film’s perf so far, and say it’s in line with other Pixar fare.

“Ratatouille” is opting to wait until fall to go into some key markets such as Australia, Germany, Italy and the U.K. Pixar’s last title, “The Incredibles,” made $362 million overseas.

The international market leader for the Aug. 3 frame was 20th Century Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie,” which took in $47.3 million from 6,627 runs in 75 markets in its second frame for a cume of $187 million, a tidy pile of coin for the film’s first 12 days in release.

“Simpsons” enjoyed decent traction with a $7,148 per-location average and declines in the 50% range. Animated comedy, based on the celebrated television series, posted a strong $7 million Mexican launch, Fox’s best showing after “Ice Age 2.”

Fox is confident that “Simpsons” has enough steam to hit the $300 million foreign mark, a nod to the worldwide draw of the TV series, which is heavily syndicated around the globe.

“Simpsons” yukked it up the most for the frame in the U.K., grossing $8.7 million, a 53% decline, for a Brit cume of $49.5 million. Toon fell 50% in Australia to $5.3 million and 54% in Spain to $3.4 million. Its $1.4 million Danish launch repped the second-highest opening for an animated pic in that market.

Playing surprisingly strong in its Korean bow was Showbox’s “D-War,” about a massive snake that destroys downtown Los Angeles. Taking in a hefty $19.2 million from 530 runs, “D-War” landed No. 5 on the list of top-grossing pics overseas for the Aug. 3 frame.

“D-War” nabbed the best Korean opening of all time, edging out “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which bowed at $18 million in its Korean launch. “D-War” opens in the U.S. next month as “Dragon Wars.”

Coming in second overseas was DreamWorks-Paramount’s robot actioner “Transformers,” which added $30 million from 6,118 runs to its coffers for an international cume of $296 million. Tentpole enjoyed first-place launches in Germany with $5.5 million and Japan with $5.4 million.

In Malaysia, “Transformers” is the highest-grossing pic of all time, taking in $5.2 million in five weeks. It has also become the biggest non-sequel film in Singapore, taking in $4.6 million to date.

Up next overseas was “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which grossed $25.2 million from 9,700 prints in 59 markets, pushing the tentpole past the $500 million mark for a cume of $509.7 million — the 15th highest of all time.

“Phoenix” did the most biz in Japan, taking in $4.1 million, followed by $3.1 million in the U.K.

The plethora of Hollywood summer pics is fueling a record-breaking summer overseas. For the Aug. 3 frame, the five top-grossing pics amassed a war chest of more than $100 million, dwarfing the same frame the previous year, when the international gross for the top five films was $84 million.

After the top five titles, Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard” — titled “Die Hard 4.0″ overseas — continued to do plenty of living with a take of $7 million from 4,000 runs in 39 markets, including a sizable $2.2 million bow in Brazil.

Pic’s foreign cume is an impressive $191 million, a tally that should see a nice boost from its Australia launch on Aug. 10 and its preems in Spain and Italy in the fall.

Universal tested the international waters for “Evan Almighty,” moving the pic into several major markets. Laffer came in fourth in the U.K. with $2.3 million, and in second in Brazil and Mexico, with $1.3 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

Predecessor pic “Bruce Almighty” was a solid success overseas, earning $241 million. Stateside, “Evan” has been a disappointment.

David Hayhurst in France, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Ed Meza in Germany and Vicco Ho in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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