Damon franchise performs increasingly better

It’s no wonder that every Hollywood studio is looking for its own Jason Bourne.

Universal’s Matt Damon starrer “The Bourne Ultimatum” continues to impress in its round-the-world trek, grossing $162.8 million internationally in its first eight weeks.

Each of three “Bourne” pics has done increasingly more business abroad, with Brit Paul Greengrass directing the second two, “Ultimatum” and “The Bourne Supremacy.”

Already, “Ultimatum” has far outpaced the previous two installments in terms of foreign coin. “The Bourne Identity” grossed $96 million internationally in 2002, while “Supremacy” grossed $112 million overseas in 2004.

While it’s made even more in the U.S., the franchise has managed to erase borders in the manner of the James Bond films.

“This was a movie shot all over the world. There are some movies that have a real American feel, even if shot in other countries. ‘Supremacy’ has an indigenous feel. It isn’t cultural imperialism,” says a Universal exec.

“Matt Damon’s character is a very modern hero. He’s a guy who has had it with the system.”

For the frame of Sept. 28-30, “Ultimatum” took in $9.6 million from 3,344 runs in 42 markets for a cume of $162.8 million.

That gave the spy thriller the edge over another Universal title, Adam Sandler laffer “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” which grossed $8.8 million at 2,333 playdates from 38 territories for a cume of $37.6 million.

Overall, however, it was a tepid weekend at the international box office. Frame was one of the few in 2007 where the top pic didn’t outpace the leader of the same weekend a year ago. Over the same weekend in 2006, “World Trade Center” grossed $12.3 million.

A barrage of midrange fare, led by Warner Bros.’ Jodie Foster vigilante drama “The Brave One” swamped the European box office, but no newcomer opened to truly boffo biz. Among holdover titles, it was a different story.

In the U.K., local offerings “Run, Fat Boy, Run” and “Atonement” remained big draws. “Fat Boy,” which marks David Schwimmer’s directorial debut and toplines popular British thesp Simon Pegg, dipped only 18% to $2 million at 398 screens for a cume of $16 million.

Joe Wright’s period romancer “Atonement,” starring Keira Knightley, is proving equally durable on home turf. In its fourth frame, the Working Title pic dropped 25% to $1.8 million from 413 runs in the U.K. for a cume of $17.4 million.

After “Bourne” and “Chuck and Larry,” Milla Jovovich starrer “Resident Evil: Extinction” came in No. 3 internationally, grossing $6.9 million from 1,500 runs for a cume of $17.3 in its second frame. Early “Evil” numbers are in line with forecasts; the two previous films in the franchise combined for $150 million internationally.

“Brave One,” directed by Neil Jordan, came in at No. 4 abroad, grossing a moderate $6.5 million from 2,075 runs in 21 markets for a cume of $8.2 million in its third frame. Film, co-starring Terrence Howard, has underperformed in the U.S.

“Brave One” made its best showing in Spain, where it launched to $1.3 million, tied for first with “Rush Hour 3.” Pic debuted at $1.1 million in Germany and France, while coming in No. 8 in the U.K. at $1 million.

Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille” opened in several major markets over the Oct. 5 weekend. Toon came in fifth fourth overall for the Sept. 28-30 frame, grossing $5.9 million internationally from 2,574 runs in 34 markets for a cume of $224.5 million.

Film stayed stellar in France, where it made $1.3 million in its ninth frame, cooking up a French total of $57.8 million — making it the top film of the year in that market. Toon has opened in only about 60% of its markets, with Disney and Pixar electing to hold back until summer tentpoles were out of the way.

Among pics bowing overseas, Ang Lee’s erotic thriller “Lust, Caution” opened with a socko $2.9 million at 95 playdates in Lee’s homeland of Taiwan, setting a record for top September launch in that market.

George Clooney starrer “Michael Clayton” opened less impressively in the U.K., with $1.2 million from 295 runs, still a solid number.

Archie Thomas in London contributed to this report.

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