‘Stardust’ sprinkles box office magic

Film making up for low U.S. numbers overseas

True to Paramount’s word, fantasy epic “Stardust” has made up for its disappointing performance domestically at the overseas box office.

Through Nov. 4, the film’s international cume was $74.8 million — nearly double its North American haul of $38.4 million, according to Rentrak.

“Stardust,” directed by Brit filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, has been steadily climbing up the international chart in recent weeks. For the Nov. 2-4 weekend, the film came in No. 3, grossing $8.5 million from 2,626 runs in its 13th frame.

Par contended from the outset that “Stardust” would be a strong international player because of its whimsical storyline and ensemble cast, which includes Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Robert De Niro, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Rupert Everett.

In the U.S., “Stardust” opened to only $9 million in mid-August. At the time, Paramount prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution Rob Moore predicted the film could ultimately do double its business overseas. He was right.

Paramount put up half the $75 million production budget for “Stardust”; Marv Films, Ingenious Films and the Melrose Fund paid the rest. Movie was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

Coming in No. 1 internationally over the Nov. 2-4 weekend was Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille”— for its fifth straight weekend. For the frame, the toon grossed $16.6 million off 4,195 for a cume of $375 million.

Coming in No. 2 for the frame was Summit-Sony Intl.’s horror entry “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which grossed $10.2 million from 1,668 runs. Pic scored a solid $5.1 million launch in Japan and a $3.4 mil opening in Spain. Film’s perf is in line with expectations.

DreamWorks-Paramount’s Ben Stiller laffer “The Heartbreak Kid” came in No. 4 for the frame internationally, grossing $7.9 million from 1,509 runs for a cume of $30.6 million, not far behind the domestic take of $36.1 million. Like “Stardust,” “Heartbreak” has performed below expectations in the U.S.

Taking No. 5 internationally was Mandate Intl.’s “Saw IV,” which continues the lucrative Twisted Pictures-Lionsgate hardcore horror franchise. Film grossed $7.3 million for the frame from 1,800 runs for a cume of $26 million. Pic has grossed $50.4 million domestically.

In the U.K. over the Nov. 2-4 weekend, theater biz slipped because of Bonfire Night celebrations and fireworks displays. Overall trade dipped 26% from the previous weekend, and 26% below the same frame last year. But bookers point out that the weekly dropoff was not cause for alarm, as the previous Friday (Oct. 26) was a school holiday.

Finishing off its European run, “The Bourne Ultimatum” opened just OK in Italy, where it scored $3.2 million on 357 in four days for Universal, following a Thursday opening.

Slasher “Mother of Tears,” the other big Italo opener, came in at No. 4, scaring up $1.1 million on 303, via Medusa, over the All Saints weekend; not a bad take considering the horrormeister is no longer in his heyday.

But the frame’s real winner was Italo auteur Silvio Soldini’s “Days and Clouds,” which slid a mere 7% in its second frame, holding on to the fifth spot. Genoa-set drama about a middle-class couple hit with money troubles scored $953,000 on 203 for a rich $3 million two-week cume via Warner Bros.

In Germany, lighthearted animated fare and comedies ruled the box office; overall, the Teutonic B.O. was up 18% from the previous week.

Local CGI hit “Lissi” enjoyed a powerful second wind in its soph sesh, remaining at No. 1, with $4.7 million, a mere 7% drop. While “Lissi” opened below initial expectations, the Constantin pic has made up for it and then some with its strong second week showing, giving it a total of $11.8 million from 790.

In Spain, Juan Antonio Bayona’s chiller “The Orphanage” held top spot, picking up $3.2 million more (down just 22%) en route to a $26.7 million take after four frames.

Two local pics debuted to muted response in Spain. “Oviedo Express,” from vet writer-director Gonzalo Suarez, went out on 100 via UPI and took a meager $258,536. Ibon Cormenzana’s “The Totenwackers” did a more respectable $474,115 at 120 via BVI.

In France, school holidays gave “Surf’s Up” a big lift. Up 65% on the week in its second frame, it has now cumed $7.3 million.

“After a disappointing first week, we’re now expecting it to do better than ‘Open Season’ did here at the same point a year ago, which would be amazing,” says Eric Brune, general manager of Sony Pictures Releasing France.

Treated far kinder by the French critics than elsewhere, Woody Allen’s latest “Cassandra’s Dream” also debuted strongly, at just over $1.4 million off 190 for TFM.

Raunchy teen comedy “Superbad” also was well received, bowing at $1.4 million on 280 for Sony.

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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