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‘Compass’ still points way overseas

Record set as all six majors pass $1 billion mark

Happy holidays from abroad, Hollywood.

For the first time in history, the six largest studios have all crossed the $1 billion mark at the international box office in the same calendar year — with two weekends left in 2007.

Milestone was reached during the Dec. 14-16 weekend, when Universal Pictures Intl. jumped the $1 billion mark. Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney all did so during the summer.

Already, the six majors have passed the $8.6 billion earned last year at the foreign box office, grossing $8.7 billion through Dec. 16.

U has several pics in release overseas, including Ridley Scott’s Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe starrer “American Gangster,” which is still relatively early in its run. Mob-cop drama grossed $3.5 million for the frame for a healthy international cume of $52 million.

Family-friendly fare was the big winner of the pre-Christmas frame, with New Line’s “The Golden Compass” remaining the international market leader in its second sesh. Pricey fantasy epic continued to play far more strongly overseas than domestically.

“Compass” grossed $29.2 million from 6,235 runs in most major markets, for a foreign cume of $91.2 million. Pic’s domestic gross was $40.8 million through Dec. 16.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Bee Movie” came in No. 2 overseas as it continued to roll out, grossing $20.9 million for a new international cume of $58.8 million. Pic added $3 million from its French debut and $2 million in Germany. So far, “Bee” has outperformed 2006’s “Over the Hedge,” which eventually grossed $180 million domestically.

The No. 3 spot internationally went to Warner Bros.’ Will Smith sci-fi thriller “I Am Legend,” which launched impressively at $20 million from 1,300 runs in only eight Asian markets for a boffo per-location average of $15,300. Opening numbers speak to Smith’s star-status abroad, and spell good things for the pic’s rollout.

“Legend” grabbed $6.4 million from Japan, and $6.3 million from Korea. “Enchanted” finished fourth, grossing $16.3 million for an international cume of $54.3 million.

China Film Group-Media Asia/China’s “The Warlords” placed No. 5 overall in its debut, grossing a hearty $14.6 million from just 1,241 runs.

Feel-good Hollywood fare particularly played well to Europe’s festive mood as “Compass,” “Bee Movie” and “Enchanted” topped charts in most Euro territories, except Italy where local laffers were the big galvanizers.

In the U.K., “Compass” now has a 24.5 million cume, managing to stave off the dual offensive of “Enchanted” and “Bee Movie.” “Enchanted” managed to swat the Jerry Seinfeld-voiced “Bee” and claim second spot, bringing in $5.1 million off 471 playdates. “Bee” buzzed in at third place with an opening cume of $4.6 million off 435 playdates.

In Germany, “Compass” is still pointing north, with a second week at No. 1. Sliding 30% from its first frame, “Compass” drew $3.28 million for a $9 million cume, which squeaked it past the 1 million admission mark.

But the spate of new openers failed to fire up the Teutonic box office which, though up 3.25% from last week, was down 26% compared with the same frame last year.

In Gaul, distribs are singing the blues after the worst November box office take in a decade, blamed mainly on the transit strikes and lack of boffo product.

“Compass” held on to the top spot, dropping 38% in its second frame. But its $10.4 million cume is still a slight disappointment for Metropolitan. Disney heartwarmer “The Fox and the Child” bowed at No. 2, with more than $3.5 million from 703 in its first five days. Still, Paramount Pictures France prexy Camille Trumer has been lamenting dropoffs of 40% and up, compared with 25% to 30% a few years ago, pointing to piracy as the likely culprit.

Andrew Horn in Germany, Ali Jaafar in the U.K., David Hayhurst in France and Emilio Mayorga in Spain contributed to this report.

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