‘Night’ tightens grip overseas

'Museum' tops int'l box office with $19.1 mil

“Night at the Museum” dominated the international box office for the third weekend in a row with $19.1 million at 5,000 playdates.

Fox’s Ben Stiller laffer took in nearly the combined grosses of the next two films, “The Pursuit of Happyness” in its first foreign launches and long-running hit “Casino Royale.” Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” continued its impressive Japanese performance, finishing first in its sixth weekend with $1.3 million at 322 for a $33.5 million total in that market.

The strong reception for “Night at the Museum” has kept overall foreign biz healthy, nearly matching results from the same 2006 frame, when “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” led with $20.1 million. “Museum” has now grossed $150.4 million overseas and $336 million worldwide.

“Museum” took in its top numbers in the U.K., with $3.9 million at 470 in its third frame; a Brazilian opening of $3 million at 502; and its third German sesh, with $2.6 million at 852. Brit cume has hit nearly $33 million, while the Brazilian launch represented the third highest ever for a Fox film.

The German perf of “Museum” may have edged the launch of Dani Levy’s local spoof “My Fuhrer — The Absolutely Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler” with an estimated $2.4 million at 267.

“Museum” also held well in its third weekend in Australia, down 34% to $1.7 million at 349, and its third Mexican sesh finished second with $1.5 million at 740. In South Korea, pic’s fourth frame grossed $1.3 million at 254 to lift that market’s cume to $22.7 million — enough to surpass “Minority Report” as the biggest Fox title there ever after “Titanic.”

Sony saw solid launches of “The Pursuit of Happyness” in the U.K. and Australia. In Blighty it took $5 million at 413, 11% higher than “The Departed,” which registered the best opening of a drama in 2006; in Australia, it garnered $2.7 million at 223, 24% better than “Memoirs of a Geisha,” which posted the highest 2006 launch for a drama in Oz. Rough estimates of the Italian launch of “Pursuit,” directed by Italian helmer Gabriel Muccino and handled by local distrib Medusa, came in at around $3.5 million at 430 to fall behind “Rocky Balboa” for the top slot.

The respectable numbers for “Pursuit,” which opens next weekend in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, underline Will Smith’s worldwide box office appeal. Two years ago, “Hitch” took in nearly $190 million outside the U.S.

Sony’s durable “Casino Royale” continued to cash in overseas with $11.3 million at 4,235 in 57 markets, led by its Italian soph sesh with $2.6 million at 427 and its ninth U.K. frame with $1.8 million at 325 as BAFTA nominations kept the decline down to 13%. With $101.6 million in Blighty grosses, it’s joined “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” as only the third film to hit the $100 million mark in the U.K.

“Casino Royale” has cumed $390.7 million overseas and $553 million worldwide — 36th on the all-time list.

Fox’s “Eragon” stayed aloft with $10.3 million at 7,000, led by a respectable South Korean launch of $2.8 million at 302 as the fantasy-adventure vied for first with the fifth frame of local hit “200 Pound Beauty.” “Eragon” led in the Philippines with $549,000 at 118 in its opening.

“Eragon” continues to show far more traction outside the U.S., with foreign grosses hitting $154 million, representing nearly 70% of its worldwide total of $222 million.

Fox also saw respectable returns from its first major foreign outings for “Rocky Balboa” with an Italian opening of $4 million at 370, a Spanish debut of $3.4 million at 300 and a Mexican start of $1.6 million at 369. Italian biz was likely aided by Sylvester Stallone tubthumping for the boxing pic and stressing his Italian heritage.

Universal’s “The Holiday” remained far more attractive overseas than domestically with $7.8 million at 2,860 in 45 markets, led by its fifth German frame with $1.3 million at 526, its third French weekend with $1.1 million at 350 and its Mexican launch with $800,000 at 237. The romantic comedy has hit $103.2 million overseas and $164 million worldwide.

BVI’s “Deja Vu” materialized with $7.8 million at 2,983, led by a South Korean launch of $1.8 million at 200 and fourth German frame of $1.3 million at 565. Foreign cume has topped $81 million and worldwide is over $143 million.

Warner’s domestic hit “Happy Feet” continued to kick in foreign biz with $6.6 million at 4,600 in 54 markets, pushing international grosses to $151.7 million and worldwide to $340 million. Paramount’s rival toon “Flushed Away” delivered $4 million at 3,552 in 56 territories to lift foreign cume to $100 million and the worldwide to $162 million.

Studios opted to launch a pair of actioners prior to their openings in the U.S., with Universal opening “Smokin’ Aces” in third place in the U.K. with a moderate $2 million at 338 and Fox debuting “Pathfinder” in first in Russia with $1.5 million at 330.

Fox also staged its first major foreign opening for awards season contender “The Last King of Scotland” in the U.K. with $1.7 million at 246.

Warner Bros. saw strong holdover biz for “Blood Diamond” with $3.3 million at 529 in seven markets. It also reported “The Prestige” grossed $4 million in 31 markets to lift foreign cume to $41 million and the worldwide to $93 million; “The Departed” took in $2.3 million at 2,600 for an international total of $127.5 million and a worldwide of $249 million.

In the U.K., Momentum’s soph sesh of “Miss Potter” held well with about $2 million at 338 to lift the Brit cume to $6 million. Other significant results included Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web” with $2.3 million at 1,761, Par’s “Babel” with $1.7 million at 267, Sony’s “Open Season” with $1.3 million at 927, Sony’s “Monster House” with $1.2 million at 253 and Lionsgate’s “Saw III” with $1.1 million.

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