Overseas box office gets action

'Gangster' good, but 'Beowulf' better

“Beowulf” conquered the overseas box office this weekend, with a solid (but hardly blockbuster) $17 million, followed by “American Gangster,” which nabbed an impressive $14 million in fewer playdates.

Meanwhile, Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille” continued to cook, “The Bourne Ultimatum” is still macho, but “Lions for Lambs” did a fast fade in its sophomore session (falling 61% in its second week in the U.K., for example).

“Beowulf,” handled by Warner Bros. offshore, was at 2,500 playdates in 13 markets. Universal’s “Gangster” bowed in 14 markets — its first foray into major international territories — at 1,471 playdates for a beefy $9,517 per-location average.

“Gangster” bested “Beowulf” in the key territories where the pics went head to head, winning by 13% in the U.K. with $5.1 million and by 35% in Germany with $3 million.

Even though action entries have been absent in recent frames, “Beowulf” won’t come in anywhere near the surprisingly strong $245 million foreign cume posted earlier this year by “300.”

The pic’s best performance came in the U.K. with $4.4 million, but other European markets weren’t quite as receptive, with Italy at $2.1 million and Germany at $2 million.

The epic showed solid traction in South Korea with $3.7 million. Pic launched decently in other Asian markets, finishing first in Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Warner on Sunday did not break out how much of the “Beowulf” grosses came from 3-D theaters internationally.

“American Gangster” scored a 26% share in the U.K., in a launch that topped “The Departed” by 9%, and led in France with $3.4 million with a 27% share. Debuts also led in Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland.

The foreign figures for “Gangster” underline Denzel Washington’s star power in offshore markets. His previous entry, “Deja Vu,” generated a solid $116 million outside the United States.

“The Heartbreak Kid” led the rest of the pack with $7.1 million at 1,856 in 37 markets as the raunchy comedy hit $51.5 million internationally, $15 million ahead of the pic’s U.S. total.

“Stardust,” nearing the end of its foreign run, conjured up $3.6 million at 2,022 to lift the foreign cume to $88 million — $50 million ahead of its U.S. total.

Both pics continued to post notably better numbers overseas than their downbeat domestic tallies, as did “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”

The film turned in a moderate $6 million at 1,590 in 13 markets with first-place launches in Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the Ukraine. The sequel may match the $52 million foreign cume from 1998’s “Elizabeth”; even at this early stage of its international run, the $22 million foreign cume has already eclipsed the domestic total by 37%.

“Lions for Lambs” saw a meek $5.7 million at 2,700 in 53 markets, off 45% from its launch. Spain remained by far the best territory for the Tom Cruise starrer, with $1.3 million for a cume of $4 million, but Brits ran from “Lions” as grosses slid 61% to just $525,000.

“Lions” has cumed a disappointing $19.7 million internationally for Fox and goes into France next weekend.

Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille” ate up $5.4 million at 3,707 in 30 markets to lift the foreign cume to $396 million — 28th highest on that list and far above expectations. The U.K. turned in the top number in its sixth frame with $1.8 million for a Brit cume of $46.3 million, second only to France.

U’s “Bourne Ultimatum” generated $3.3 million at 900 — mostly from its second Japanese frame ($1.5 million) and its Chinese launch ($975,000). The threequel has nearly matched the combined foreign grosses of the previous “Bourne” pics with $202.4 million; it’s the ninth pic of 2007 to go past the $200 million mark internationally, joining the third versions of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider-Man” and “Shrek,” the fifth “Harry Potter,” “Transformers,” “The Simpsons Movie,” “300” and “Live Free or Die Hard,” known overseas as “Die Hard 4.0.”

“Die Hard 4.0” opened in China with $1.1 million at 297, with 147 of those screens digital. Foreign cume has been solid with $245 million, only $15 million short of the series’ third installment, “Die Hard With a Vengeance.”

Sony’s Bollywood entry “Saawariya” showed little staying power after launching impressively last weekend during the Diwali celebration, posting $630,000 in its second frame. Cume has hit $17 million.

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