'Clayton,' 'Stardust' seeing big foreign B.O.

Moody legal thriller “Michael Clayton” is off to a respectable start overseas, proving that international auds have become every bit as important to non-tentpole fare as they are to the Hollywood blockbusters.

Through Oct. 22, “Clayton,” toplining George Clooney, has grossed $13.2 million from its initial launch in territories including the U.K., France and Italy. That’s compared with a domestic gross of $21.6 million through Oct. 22.

Other American films are making similar gains across the shores, including several that were only so-so performers or all-out disappointments in North America. Foreign coin can certainly help soothe the burn and cut losses.

When Paramount’s big-budget fantasy epic Stardust failed to resonate with audiences Stateside this summer, Par assured that the pic would make up for some of its losses at the international box office.

Turns out the prediction was correct. To date, the film has grossed $42.5 million overseas, compared with $38.3 million in the U.S.

“Stardust” came in No. 2 overall at the international box office over the Oct. 19-21 weekend, led by a $4 million bow in the U.K., where it nabbed the second spot. For the frame, the fantasy grossed $8.5 million from 2,170 runs for a per-location average of $4,024.

In the Germany, “Stardust” was the weekend’s strongest new opener, grossing a respectable $1.1 million.

Film, which has now unspooled in nearly all its territories, has taken its biggest haul in Russia, where it bowed Aug. 9 on its way to a cume of $8.1 million. Pic also has played well in Australia, where it has grossed $3.8 million since its Sept. 20 launch.

Warner Bros.’ sci-fi title “The Invasion,” another recent poor performer in the U.S., has grossed $13.3 million abroad. That’s closing in on the domestic cume of $15 million.

Likewise, Fox/Walden’s troubled fantasy entry “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” has grossed $6.6 million overseas since its debut early this month. Pic’s domestic gross was $8.2 million through Oct. 22.

Clooney is a strong draw in Europe, particularly in Italy, where he keeps a home. “Clayton” has racked up $5 million in box office coin in Italy, another $3.7 million in the U.K. and $1.8 million in France.

Clooney’s last pic, “Syriana” made $50.8 domestically and $43.1 million overseas, including $4.3 million in Italy and $7.2 million in the U.K. “Syriana” did $4.4 million in Germany, where “Clayton” doesn’t unspool until Nov. 15.

For the frame of Oct. 19-21, Disney-Pixar’s toon “Ratatouille” was the market leader, cooking up another $30.1 million from 4,377 runs in 34 markets for an international cume of $313.3 million. That included a solid U.K. soph sesh of $9.1 and a German soph sesh of $6 million.

In Italy, “Ratatouille” pulled in $7.2 million on 655 screens in an outing that bested “The Incredibles” as the best Pixar launch in that territory and left the competition fighting for scraps.

Coming in third for the frame internationally was “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which grossed $5.5 million, bumping the horror title’s foreign cume to $50 million, the same as its domestic cume.

Taking No. 4 internationally was “The Orphanage” (El Orfanato), which stayed stellar in Spain with $5.1 million from at 373 and an 11-day cume of $15.2 million. Film declined just 32%.

“It has become a must-see pic. The character-driven story of an orphanage has opened it up to female demos beyond the hard-core horror audiences,” producer Joaquin Padro says.

Coming in No. 5 internationally for the Oct. 19-21 frame was Sony’s raunchy laffer “Superbad,” which grossed $4.3 million for a foreign cume of $31.8 million. Comedy’s domestic cume is $121.5 million.

Taking the No. 6 spot was “Clayton.”

Newly debuting Korean title “The First Press Kit” came in No. 7 internationally, with a gross of $3.2 million. DreamWorks-Paramount’s “The Heartbreak Kid” came in No. 8, with $3.06 million for a foreign total of $19.3 million and a worldwide tally of $51 million. Another Korean film, “A Court Lady,” came in No. 9, grossing $3.03.

U’s “The Kingdom” took the No. 10 spot, grossing $2.9 million and lifting its foreign cume to $15.8 million. Movie, starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, and set in Saudi Arabia against the backdrop of the war on terror, has grossed $43.9 million Stateside.

Archie Thomas in London and Ed Meza in Germany contributed to this report.

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