'Shanti,' 'Saawariya' top international box office

Bollywood stole the spotlight from Tom Cruise’s “Lions for Lambs” at the international box office over the weekend, with a pair of socko launches for Shah Rukh Khan’s “Om Shanti Om” and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Saawariya.”

“Lions for Lambs” launched with a $10.3 million take from 2,681 playdates in 45 foreign markets — but that number was easily topped by “Om Shanti Om” and “Saawariya,” both of which bowed in India taking advantage of the Diwali holiday.

Eros Intl.’s “Om Shanti Om,” a tribute to the 1970s era in Bollywood, took in roughly $17 million in India while Sony’s musical-romance “Saawariya” finished with $14.4 million at 754.

“Om Shanti Om” also took in $1.5 million at 114 the United States while “Saawariya” generated $600,000 in the U.S., $340,000 in the U.K. and $100,000 in Australia.

The stunning numbers for both pics comes two months after Sony pacted with Eros — the leading Indian movie group — for a multipicture production and distribution deal that encompasses six to eight movies in the first year of the agreement (Daily Variety, Sept. 19).

“Lions,” starring Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, stumbled out of the gate internationally without winning in any of major markets. Fox opened the Middle East tale in 12 of the 16 top territories with Spain generating the top number with $2.2 million, followed by the U.K. with $1.4 million, Germany with $1 million and Australia with $878,000.

“Lions” came in a close second in Spain, losing out to the fifth frame of local hit “The Orphanage,” which has topped $20 million.

The film’s subject matter, combined with negative reviews, made “Lions” a tough sell. Fox Intl. co-president Paul Hanneman said the studio opted for a day-and-date international release to avoid bumping up against an array of similarly themed pics rolling out internationally early next year.

“This was not a film that we were going into with blockbuster expectations,” Hanneman admitted. He said negative notices led to disappointing performances in the U.K. and Germany.

Universal has faced a similar problem with “The Kingdom,” which has performed only moderately overseas with a cume of $29 million so far from 30 markets.

Paramount’s “The Heartbreak Kid” continued to salvage its domestic perf by showing more traction abroad, taking in $8.6 million at 1,782. Foreign cume has hit $41 million; frame’s best perf came from the film’s Italian launch with $2.6 million, second to local entry “Come ti me vuoi.”

Disney’s “Ratatouille,” which had won five straight weekends internationally, cooked up $8.1 million at 4,272 to push its international total to $386.5 million as it surpassed “Transformers” as the fifth highest 2007 grosser

“Ratatouille” — which has performed well above Disney’s expectations — turned in its top number in its fifth Brit frame with $2.6 million.U.K. cume has nearly hit $45 million.

Sony’s “Resident Evil: Extinction” scared up $5.5 million at 1,350 to lift its foreign cume to $81 million — topping the series’ prior installment, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” by $3 million. The trio of zombie pics has cumed over $230 million overseas.

Par’s “Stardust” remained a decent foreign player as it conjured up $5.4 million at 2,231. The foreign total has reached $83 million, more than double the Stateside cume.

Universal’s “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” took in $3.9 million at 992 for an early foreign cume of $14 million from seven markets. And its “Bourne Ultimatum” continued to draw well, opening in first in Japan with $3.2 million to lift the foreign cume to $195.5 million — nearly matching the combined foreign grosses of the two previous “Bourne” pics.

Par’s “Bee Movie” flew in with $3 million at 579 in only four markets including a first-place launch in Singapore, lifting the foreign cume to $8.4 million.

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