‘Beowulf’ mighty in second week

Zemeckis film has grossed $105 mil worldwide

Robert Zemeckis’ animated digital 3-D epic “Beowulf” howled its way to a strong soph sesh at the international box office, nabbing an impressive $26 million from 5,400 runs in 43 markets.

Combined with its domestic haul of $56.6 million, the Ray Winstone-Angelina Jolie-Anthony Hopkins starrer grossed $105 million worldwide in its first 10 days of release.

The Paramount/Shangri-La Entertainment film is being distributed by Warner Bros. overseas, where there are a limited number of 3-D screens, meaning “Beowulf” is playing on primarily 2-D screens at foreign locales.

Coming in No. 2 internationally over the Nov. 23-25 frame was Universal’s gritty mob-cop drama “American Gangster,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Film grossed $10.8 million from 1,569 playdates in 16 territories.

DreamWorks-Paramount’s Ben Stiller laffer “The Heartbreak Kid” took No. 3 at the international box office, grossing $7.8 million from 2,006 runs in 43 markets. “Kid” has hit $62 million overseas, nearly $26 million more than it made in North America.

Enchanting international auds on its day-and-date debut was Disney’s modern-day princess yarn “Enchanted,” toplining Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden. Film posted a respectable foreign opening, grossing $7.7 million from 1,000 runs in only eight markets. That represents a glowing per-location average of $7,345.

“Enchanted,” unspooling over the extended Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., opened at $50 million domestically.

Coming in No. 5 overseas for the weekend of Nov. 23-25 was Mandate Intl.’s horror pic “Saw IV,” which grossed $4.8 million in 29 markets, led by its French launch. Film, which is in the middle of its foreign run, has grossed $42.5 million overseas.

Fox continued to see only moderate results for Tom Cruise-Meryl Streep-Robert Redford starrer “Lions for Lambs,” which grossed $4.3 million from 2,500 playdates in its third frame. Political drama’s international cume is a so-so $26 million.

It was nothing but smiles for Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” a runaway international hit that crossed the $400 million mark at the international box office over the weekend. Toon, set in Paris, grossed $4.2 million, for an international cume of $402.6 million. It’s the fifth pic this year to cross the $400 million mark after “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Shrek the Third” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

With that quintet of films racking up $2.6 billion in foreign grosses, the six leading Hollywood studios have already broken last year’s mark of $8.6 billion with more than a month left in 2007.

The triple threat of “Beowulf,” “Gangster” and “Enchanted” buoyed the otherwise lethargic box office in much of Europe.

“Gangster” defended its turf against “Beowulf” in the U.K. and Germany, while “Enchanted” cast a spell in Spain.

In Spain, one of the only two major territories in which Hollywood had head-to-head battles — between bows of “Enchanted” and “Beowulf” — Disney’s big Christmas bet edged out Zemeckis’ epic based on the classic ninth-century poem. “Enchanted” grossed $3.3 million off 366 runs, while “Beowulf” grossed $3.1 million from 443 runs.

“Both results are O.K.,” notes one exhibition exec, “though Disney hasn’t got a huge Christmas hit on in its hands in Spain, and ‘Beowulf,’ as its U.S. bow suggested, isn’t a ‘300.’ ”

Russia, however, gave the win to “Beowulf.”

“Beowulf’s” bow also bettered first frame returns in Germany and Italy a week ago, and confirmed the prospect of improved returns at Spanish digital screens for animated action fare. According to Fernando Evole, deputy general manager at Yelmo Cineplex, the pic’s B.O. split in Jerez, where Yelmo Cineplex played it on a digital 3-D screen and a normal screen, was 80%-20% in favor of the digital site.

“American Gangster” retained its grip on the top spot at the U.K. box office in its sophomore frame, bringing in $3.7 million. The Ridley Scott-helmed crime epic has grossed $11.8 million so far. “Beowulf” had to be content with second spot for the second week in a row in Blighty, adding $3 million to its coffers, which have so far swelled to $9.3 million in the U.K.

The biggest surprise at U.K. wickets was the failure of Paramount’s Jude Law-Michael Caine starrer “Sleuth” to break into the top 10. The Harold Pinter-penned remake of the 1972 psychological thriller, which also starred Caine, bowed in only 11th place, bringing in $340,000 off 146 playdates.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” says Par international prexy Andrew Cripps. “Jude Law, Michael Caine and Ken Branagh all did a great job publicizing the film, but we have to face the fact that the film was geared toward an older audience who don’t necessarily rush to see a film in the cinema on its opening weekend. We’re hoping the film will stay around and get good word of mouth.”

A lack of new heavy hitters in Germany allowed “American Gangster” to remain at the top of the charts with $2 million toward its $5.8 million cume, dropping only 28% in its second frame. “Beowulf” dropped 34.6% to $1.4 million on its way to a $4.1 million total.

In Italy, local pics continued to rule the roost, with lusty laffer “Wedding at the Bahamas” holding on to the top spot in its second frame, followed by Mafia actioner “Milano-Palermo: The Return,” which bowed at No. 2. “Bahamas,” driven by popular comic Massimo Boldi, slid just 24%, for a balmy $3.5 million from 461, for a $9.2 million cume via Medusa.

“Milano-Palermo: The Return,” toplining Giancarlo Giannini, did killer Italian biz, opening at $2 million off 246, via Buena Vista Intl., which also co-produced. The weekend saw five Italo pics in the top 10, confirming the ongoing momentum for homegrown fare.

Still, it was Stephen King adaptation “1408,” starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, which scored the frame’s highest screen average in Italy, scaring up $8,760 per engagement, for $1.9 million off 224 via Lucky Red.

While the 10-day transit shutdowns in France didn’t have much box office impact, not all distribs are happy with recent results. A first-five-day take of $2.3 million on 197 for “Saw IV” was enough to give Metropolitan the top weekly spot. But this reps a bow almost 35% lower than last year’s third installment in the gorefest franchise over the same period.

Off 40% in its second frame, “American Gangster” has proved a winner in Gaul, cuming $6.4 million on 364. Local romantic comedy “Ce soir, je dors chez toi” toplining Jean-Paul Rouve and Melanie Doutey looks fine for StudioCanal when compared with a host of French-made flops in the genre of late. Its first five days earned $2 million on 273.

“Beowulf” appears unlikely to match its success in other overseas markets in France. Making Warners $1.9 million on 481 after five days, some crix dissed the CGI-heavy epic as too gimmicky.

Adam Dawtrey and Ali Jaafar in the U.K., John Hopewell in Spain, Nick Vivarelli in Italy and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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