Tentpoles winding down as box office cools

Jason Bourne shot to the top slot overseas, with “The Bourne Ultimatum” leading a cooling foreign box office with $14.4 million at 2,100 playdates in 25 markets.

With summer tentpoles winding down, “Ultimatum” posted the lowest winning international total since the final frame in April when “Wild Hogs” led with $7.2 million. With three other pics — “The Simpsons Movie,” “Ratatouille” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” — grossing more than $10 million, overall international biz turned in a respectable rather than blockbuster performance.

The frame represents one of the few times this summer when biz hasn’t exceeded the year-ago weekend, which was led by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” with $17.8 million. But the total 2007 foreign summer box office towers over last year’s, leading by more than 15% thanks to socko perfs by “Transformers” and “Simpsons”; franchises like “Phoenix”; and the third iterations of “Spider-Man,” “Pirates” and “Shrek.”

“Ultimatum” posted by far the top per-location average, at $6,866, and is outperforming the previous “Bourne” pics in reaching $55 million overseas in the early stage of its offshore run. The Matt Damon starrer showed decent traction in the U.K. — where soaring temps chilled attendance — in its second frame, with a first-place $5.9 million, off 44% for a Brit cume of $27.6 million, ahead of “The Bourne Identity” and $1.6 million short of “The Bourne Supremacy.”

It also held nicely in its Spanish soph sesh, with $1.7 million, off 29%. “Ultimatum” launched impressively in first place in Russia with $2.8 million — matching the combined final grosses of “Identity” and “Supremacy.” It opened in second in Brazil with $1.2 million and dominated in New Zealand with $630,000 for a 47% share.

“Ultimatum” has 30 more markets to launch and should easily surpass the $112 million “Supremacy” foreign cume. It opens next weekend in Australia.

Universal also said “The Bourne Ultimatum” may have edged “The Simpsons Movie” during the previous frame, when initial estimates placed Fox’s irreverent toon on top for the fourth straight weekend. Still, “Simpsons” has been an international success, with $290 million overseas — far outpacing studio forecasts — and showed it still had gas in the tank, tying “Ratatouille” for second with $11.6 million at 6,500.

Brazilian biz stayed solid, as the “Simpsons” soph sesh easily beat “Bourne,” with $1.9 million, but its fifth U.K. frame fell victim to the heat, with a 53% slide to $1.4 million, lifting the Brit cume to $72.6 million. And its South Korean launch turned in a moderate $974,000 at 171 — a midsized opening for that market.

Disney’s “Ratatouille” turned in another tasty weekend with $11.6 million at 3,055 in 29 markets, pushing the Pixar project to $172 million overseas with half the foreign territories still to open. “Ratatouille” will far surpass the final international cume of $218 million for “Cars,” last summer’s Pixar entry.

France stayed stellar, with the fourth frame off only 23% to $5.9 million, lifting the Paris-set toon to $44.9 million — only $3 million behind “Pirates 3″ as the top pic in that market this year. “Ratatouille” more than doubled the $2.8 million opening French frame for “Hairspray.”

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” continued conjuring coin overseas, dropping just 32% to $10.5 million from 5,400 prints and pushing the foreign cume to $613.3 million. That’s the sixth-highest total ever, trailing only “Titanic” at $1.2 billion, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at $752 million, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” at $652 million, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” at $649 million and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” at $642 million.

“Phoenix” opened in first in Greece, where biz was hampered by wildfires, with $1.8 million, and matched that in its sixth Japanese frame — ahead of the “Rush Hour 3″ launch. It also took in $1.3 million in China, where local entry “Blood Brothers” was expected to dominate.

Universal saw solid rather than spectacular numbers for its expansion of raunchy comedy “Knocked Up,” with $7 million at 1,628 in 19 markets to lift its early foreign cume to $25.6 million. Best numbers came from a second-place Brit launch of $3 million and a first-place German opening of $2.2 million as both markets topped “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Mexican debut was quiet, with $400,000 at a midsize run of 187.

Par’s “Transformers” — perhaps the summer’s biggest over-performer — grabbed another $6.4 million at 3,811 to lift its international total to $367.5 million.

U’s other summer comedy, “Evan Almighty,” stayed mostly moderate with $6 million at 3,200 in 35 territories, led by a first-place Spanish launch of $1.8 million. “Evan” has cumed $41.5 million overseas and $140 million worldwide — marking one of the few summer disappointments — and has 15 more markets to open.

Sony’s “Surf’s Up” boarded its way to $3.3 million at 1,930 from 35 holdover markets for a foreign cume of $32.1 million, and Par’s “Disturbia” scared up $2.8 million at 809. Fox’s summer actioners “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” followed, with the fourth “Die Hard” adding $3 million and the second “Four” $2.7 million to push respective international totals to $220 million and $139 million.

Five other pics topped $1 million for the sesh: Warner’s “No Reservations,” with $2.2 million, led by a first-place launch in Oz, and its “Ocean’s Thirteen,” with $2 million at 850; Par’s “Stardust,” with $2 million at 409; U’s “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” with $1.5 million; and Par’s “Shrek the Third,” with $1.1 million. “Ocean’s” has cumed $185 million overseas, and “Shrek the Third” has hit $417.5 million.

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