‘Ratatouille’ keeps cooking overseas

Disney-Pixar film dishes out gold at box office

Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille” just can’t stop dishing up coin overseas.

Fun-loving toon easily remained the market leader at the international box office over the Oct. 26-28 frame, with a hefty haul of $22.5 million, nearly double that of its closest competitor. That bumped up the international cume to $348.2 million, bringing the pic’s worldwide total to $553.4 million.

“Ratatouille” served up top spot finishes in its U.K. and Italo holdovers. Pic also topped charts in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Poland and Switzerland. It’s so popular with tykes that sales of rats are said to booming in European pet shops.

Toon might even have enough fuel left to cross the $400 million mark internationally, outpacing even the Mouse House’s own expectations.

Local offerings “Lissi,” “The Orphanage,” and “Le Coeur des hommes 2” topped the charts in Germany, Spain and France at the European box office this weekend. But Hollywood fare remains just as tasty to Europeans.

Coming in second internationally over the Oct. 26-28 weekend was horror title “Saw IV.” The latest installment in the lucrative franchise grossed $12.3 million in its initial rollout in 15 territories, a solid day-and-date launch that was in the same range as “Saw III” numbers.

“Saw IV” made the most of pre-Halloween bloodlust, debuting menacingly in the U.K., where it scared up $5.2 million, and Spain, where it grossed $2.7 million. It also finished first it Australia with $1.8 million and in Turkey with $1.2 million.

Stateside, “Saw IV” grossed $32.1 million in its debut over the Oct. 26-28, becoming the highest opener of the fall to date.

Horror can be a tough sell overseas, but “Saw” has proven itself a boffo performer, particularly considering the four films combined cost just under $25 million to produce. With the launch of “Saw IV” domestically and overseas, the franchise should have crossed the $500 million mark heading into the Nov. 2-4 frame.

Two other horror pics also made a solid showing; Warners’ Spanish chiller-thriller “The Orphanage,” which came in No. 4 overall for the frame, and Summit-Sony’s “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which came in No. 8.

Playing only in Spain, “Orphanage,” directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, continued with boss biz in its third frame. Dipping just 22%, the pic took in $4 million for an impressive $20.7 million cume.

The hit supernatural thriller has local exhibitors upbeat about overall biz.

“This is good for everybody. If moviegoers are happy, they come back soon. This is what’s happening right now,” says one exhib.

“Not only is ‘Orphanage’ performing superbly, the other movies are also (doing well),” another exhibitor says.

Bookers say “Orphanage” is already beginning to outperform expectations, and that there is both a great marketing campaign and strong word-of-mouth.

At this rate “Orphanage” could approach the numbers posted by the best cumes of the year in Spain: “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($31.4 million), “Shrek the Third” ($30.2 million) and “The Simpsons Movie” ($25.5 million).

In Germany, Michael Herbig’s animated laffer “Lissi” was able to knock “Ratatouille” off the top spot with the second-best start of the year for a German film after “The Wild Soccer Bunch 4,” which opened in February.

Garnering $5 million from 790, “Lissi” was nevertheless below initial expectations and well under the opening takes of Herbig’s previous hits, “Dreamship Surprise” and “Manitou’s Shoe.”

Like those films, “Lissi,” Herbig’s first CGI laffer, is a genre spoof — a parody of Ernst Marischka’s hugely popular “Sissi” trilogy from the 1950s, which starred Romy Schneider as the 19th-century Bavarian princess who became empress of Austria.

Local bookers attributed the Constantin pic’s less-than-spectacular opening to the fact it is targeted more specifically at tyke auds than Herbig’s previous films.

“We definitely were expecting more from the film,” notes one exhib. “In the end, the big winners this weekend were the kids. ‘Lissi’ is very much a children’s film, and with ‘Ratatouille’ still going strong, there are two strong movies out there for the little ones.”

In Gaul, “Le Coeur des hommes 2,” Marc Esposito’s laffer about four buddies in their 40s, is bringing home the bacon for BAC. Making $3.8 million on 517 in its first five days, it has outperformed the 2003 bow of the original by 35%. Film came in No. 7 overall internationally for the Oct. 26-28 frame.

American entry “Stardust” continued to do solid business over the frame, coming in No. 3 with a haul of $10.9 million, bumping up the film’s international take to a healthy $60.5 million. From the outset, Paramount has been looking for international biz to make up for the pic’s disappointing performance Stateside. Film’s domestic cume is $38.8 million.

Sony’s toon “Surf’s Up” came in No. 4 for the Oct. 24-26 weekend with a cume of $4.3 million and a new international cume of $64 million, outpacing the domestic cume of $58.9 million.

Fox’s “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” came in No. 10 for the weekend, grossing $3.1 million for a foreign cume of $11.1, besting the domestic cume of $8.5 million.

Ed Meza in Germany, Nick Vivarelli in Italy, David Hayhurst in France and Emilio Mayorga in Spain contributed to this report.

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