‘Pursuit’ shows Will power overseas

'Happyness' tops 'Museum,' 'Diamond'

Showing the worldwide drawing power of Will Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness” topped a healthy weekend at the international box office with $16 million at 3,100 playdates in two dozen markets.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” beat “Night at the Museum” and “Blood Diamond” by more than $2 million in a three-way battle for the top slot. The race would have been far closer had many Brit chains not banished “Museum” due to Fox’s decision to shorten the DVD release window, but “Pursuit” would have likely still won.

The frame also saw “Casino Royale” continue to mint money overseas, thanks mostly to a boffo Chinese launch, while “Dreamgirls” posted a decent Brit launch but stumbled in its German debut.

“Pursuit” prevailed thanks to a combo of solid openings plus respectable holdover perfs as Sony took advantage of Smith’s ongoing star power plus his Oscar nom. Best figures came from pic’s second-place Spanish launch with $2.4 million at 286; its Japanese soph sesh of $2.3 million at 271, down 21%; its French launch of $2.2 million at 322, losing narrowly to the “Blood Diamond” debut; and its German second weekend with $1.7 million at 521, off 19%. “Pursuit” also opened respectably in Mexico with $1.3 million at 300.

Despite the Brit ban, “Night at the Museum” showed plenty of pop elsewhere with $13.5 million at 4,500 in 50 markets, led by a socko first-place Italian launch of $4.7 million at 536 and a solid Spanish soph sesh of $3.6 million at 481, down 34%.

But Brit biz nearly vanished for “Museum,” plunging 87% to $274,000 at 190 in its sixth weekend as the number of locations — including many top destinations — dropped from 458 in the previous frame. “Museum” still managed to hit the $40 million mark in U.K. grosses, the leading overseas market for a pic that’s cumed $212 million internationally and $438 million worldwide.

It was the first time in six seshes that “Night at the Museum” didn’t top the foreign charts.

Overall biz exceeded the same frame a year ago, when “Munich” led with $13.3 million.

Warner’s “Blood Diamond” continued to turn up solid rather than spectacular overseas returns with $13.2 million from 3,200 prints in 51 markets, led by its first-place French opening of $2.5 million at 459.

“Blood Diamond,” which opens next weekend in Mexico and Spain, has cumed $45.5 million offshore and should go well past the $54 million domestic total.

Sony’s sturdy “Casino Royale” generated plenty of B.O. heat in its first six days in China with $6.9 million at 468, including $4 million for the weekend as the first James Bond pic ever to play in that market. Weekend launch was the third best for a non-Chinese pic, trailing only those of “The Da Vinci Code” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

“Casino” has cumed $416.8 million overseas and $582 million worldwide — No. 34 of all time.

BVI kicked in an impressive launch in Germanic markets for local family comedy “Wild Bunch 4” with $5.5 million at 700, including $4.7 million at 600 in Germany, where it easily topped the “Saw III” opening with $3 million at 439.

Rocky Balboa” continued to punch in decent numbers with $5.4 million at 2,300 in 21 territories, led by its third Brit frame with $1.7 million and its French soph sesh of $1.5 million. The sixth “Rocky” pic has grossed $47 million overseas and $116 million worldwide.

With its eight Oscar noms, Paramount’s “Dreamgirls” doubled its foreign gross with $4.7 million at 1,188 in 11 markets, led by a Brit launch of $2.5 million at 271.

“Babel,” with seven Oscar noms, remained an international contributor with $3.6 million at 1,126 to lift foreign cume to nearly $59 million.

Fox’s Brit launch of “Notes on a Scandal,” with Oscar noms for Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, nearly matched “Dreamgirls” with $2.3 million at 300 in its first foreign outing. And its “The Last King of Scotland” pulled in $1.4 million at 378 in 15 markets to push foreign gross to $8.3 million.

Warner’s “The Departed” continued to shake down more foreign coin with $1.8 million at 1,200 in 31 markets for a foreign cume of $142.4 million and a worldwide total of $271 million.

Fox saw “Apocalypto” grab $3.1 million at 600, led by a South Korean launch of $1 million at 157, while Warner’s “Happy Feet” kicked up $2.8 million at 2,700 for a foreign total of $165.2 million. BVI’s “Deja Vu” materialized with $2.5 million at 1,857 to cross the $100 million foreign mark — the 11th Jerry Bruckheimer film to hit the milestone for BVI.

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