Sony pic rolls to second straight win

“Ghost Rider” rolled to a second straight international victory, easily topping a moderate frame at the foreign box office with $16.1 million at 3,000 playdates in 40 markets.

Amid respectable openings and holdovers and a lack of competing action fare, Sony’s “Rider” grossed nearly the combined total of the closest contenders, Fox’s “Night at the Museum” and U’s Brit comedy “Hot Fuzz.”

Among holdovers internationally, Sony’s “The Pursuit of Happyness” and Warner’s “Blood Diamond” — both with stars contending in the lead actor Oscar race — took in about $6 million apiece. The frame also featured solid expansions for a quartet of Oscar contenders: Paramount’s “Dreamgirls” took in $5.2 million at 1,489, Fox’s “Notes on a Scandal” bagged $3.1 million at 850, Warner’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” landed $2.7 million at 970, and Fox’s “The Last King of Scotland” garnered $1.9 million at 700.

“Ghost Rider” made the biggest splash with launches in France, with $3 million at 426 through local distrib SND, and in Germany, with a first-place $2.2 million at 363. Soph seshes saw declines of 51% in Spain to $1.5 million at 417 — still enough for first — along with 38% in Mexico to $1.3 million at 403 and 46% in Australia to $1 million at 208.

Actioner also opened in first place in India with $820,000 at 250 for the 12th biggest launch in that market for a Hollywood pic. Nicolas Cage starrer has lived up to expectations internationally, cuming $39.4 million overseas and $118 million worldwide with openings coming next weekend in Japan and the U.K.

“Night at the Museum,” which has led six weekends and finished second three times, remained a respectable draw with $9.6 million at 4,000 in 35 markets, led by its third French frame with $2.4 million at 657 — off just 22%. Laffer’s second Hong Kong frame stayed solid with $1.1 million at 46, down 6%, and its soph seshes in Belgium and Holland scored impressive gains amid school holidays, jumping by 22% to $910,000 and 45% to $711,000, respectively.

“Museum” has cumed $268 million overseas and $508 million worldwide — the 45th highest on that list.

Cop spoof “Hot Fuzz” stayed on top in the U.K. with $6.8 million at 432 in its second weekend, off only 21% for a cume of $23.6 million. “Fuzz,” which easily topped the day-and-date Brit launch of “The Number 23″ at $2.7 million, opens in Australia and New Zealand on March 15.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” grabbed $6.1 million at 2,825 in 52 markets to lift foreign cume to $114.7 million in underlining the foreign box office power of Will Smith. Worldwide take has reached $277 million, with openings coming next weekend in South Korea and Sweden.

Warner’s “Music and Lyrics” stayed in tune with romantic comedy fans, taking $6 million at 1,300 in a dozen markets, led by its third Brit frame with $1.85 million at 425, off 35%. “Music” launched in third in Italy with $1.8 million at 341, trailing the opening of local ensemble pic “Saturno Contro” and the second frame of “Night Before Finals — Today.”

Warner’s “Blood Diamond” grossed $5.9 million at 3,000 in 57 markets, led by its third Spanish sesh with $1.2 million at 347. “Diamond” has shown decent traction overseas with international cume at $87.5 million, or $32 million higher than the Stateside total.

Oscar contenders took the opportunity to expand, with “Dreamgirls” launching in South Korea with $1.6 million at 105. The musical, which has cumed $27.1 million overseas, held impressively in its second Japanese weekend in first with $1.5 million at 285, down 9%.

“Notes on a Scandal” opened respectably in Germany with $440,000 at 122 and in Italy with $420,000 at 93 to go along with its fourth Brit frame with $580,000 at 250. “Scandal” has grossed $13.2 million overseas — two thirds of that in the U.K.

“Letters From Iwo Jima” launched best in France with $744,500 at 153, while the pic’s soph sesh in Spain declined only 15% to $316,000 at 69, the U.K. debut took in $129,000 at 38, and the Australian opening grossed $104,000 at 24. “Letters” has grossed $47 million overseas, including $42 million in Japan.

“The Last King of Scotland” opened solidly in Spain with $420,000 at 90, pushing foreign cume to $15.7 million — 60% of that from the U.K.

Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web” snared $4 million at 1,867, led by its third U.K. frame with $2.6 million at 479. Par also saw “Norbit” grab $3.2 million at 625, led by a second-place launch in Australia with $1.4 million at 210 and a first-place opening in Mexico with $1.2 million at 300.    

“Rocky Balboa” punched in with $3.8 million at 2,000, led by a first-place opening  in Australia with $1.6 million.  U’s “The Good Shepherd” took $2.7 million at 756, including a fifth-place U.K. debut with $1.3 million at 340.

BVI’s fourth frame of “The Wild Bunch 4″ grabbed $1.1 million at 898 in three German-speaking markets to up cume to $14 million. And Fox’s Brazilian launch of “Borat” came in second with $720,000 at 82, lifting the foreign cume to $122 million and the worldwide past $250 million.

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