'Stardust,' 'Saw IV' solid at foreign box office

“Ratatouille” remained ruler of the international box office for the fourth straight weekend, easily winning the frame with a tasty $21.9 million at 4,770 playdates in 31 markets.

The weekend also saw a pair of solid perfs from “Saw IV,” with $12.6 million at 1,600 in day-and-date launches in 15 territories, and from fantasy actioner “Stardust,” with $11.2 million at 2,860 in 54 markets.

But Michael Moore’s “Sicko” looked less than healthy in its Brit debut in 11th place with a quiet $325,000 at 166.

Moore had tubthumped the docu — which features extensive footage from the U.K. — and attended the London preem, but “Sicko” has shown only modest traction outside the U.S., with foreign cume at about $9 million from over a dozen markets compared with $24.5 million Stateside. Best takes so far have come from France and Italy with $2 million each.

“Ratatouille” continued as the dominant pic — even though the toon completed its final launches during the previous frame — with first-place finishes in the U.K., Italy, China, Poland, Switzerland and all four Scandinavian markets.

The Disney-Pixar toon cooked up its top figures in its third U.K. frame with $8.2 million, rising an impressive 31% amid school holidays; its Italian soph sesh with $4.3 million, off 35%; and its fourth German frame with $3.6 million, off 45%. The Brit cume hit $36.3 million, surpassing Japan as the second-biggest “Ratatouille” market behind France’s $60 million.

“Ratatouille” has cumed $346.8 million overseas — well above Disney’s forecasts — and $552 million worldwide. It may still have enough gas in the tank to have a shot at becoming the 29th pic to hit the $400 million mark internationally.

Four 2007 pics have already crossed $400 million — the third versions of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider-Man” and “Shrek” and the fifth “Harry Potter” — as key drivers in pushing this year’s foreign take for the Hollywood majors on track to finish at least 10% ahead of the 2006 total.

“Saw IV,” handled by a variety of distribs internationally, performed in line with expectations as it scared up biz in the same range as “Saw III” launches, with $5.2 million in the U.K. and $2.7 million in Spain. The horror-thriller finished first in Australia with $1.8 million and in Turkey with $1.2 million.

Though horror is a tricky sell in many foreign markets, the “Saw” franchise has turned out to be fairly robust. The three previous “Saw” installments combined for over $190 million internationally, with “Saw III” taking in $84 million offshore.

Another horror franchise outing, “Resident Evil: Extinction,” has already generated respectable overseas autumn biz for Sony and Summit with another $3.5 million over the weekend to lift foreign cume to $55 million — $5 million ahead of domestic cume. The zombiefest, which opens next weekend in Japan and Spain, has performed in line with expectations since the two previous “Resident Evil” pics combined for $150 million outside the U.S., $60 million ahead of the U.S. totals.

Paramount’s “Stardust” also continued to show more attraction overseas than domestically, with foreign grosses now at $60 million — $22 million ahead of the disappointing Stateside total. The frame saw mixed results as Brit audiences embraced the Claire Danes starrer with a 14% hike in the soph sesh to $4.7 million, while other markets were muted in launches in France with $1.1 million, Spain with $1 million and Japan with $667,000.

Frame saw Constantin’s German toon “Lissi” take the top spot in Germany with $5.2 million, beating the fourth frame of “Ratatouille.” The Michael Herbig pic is a spoof of the “Sissi” trilogy of the 1950s.

Another local entry, Spanish chiller “The Orphanage,” remained a solid performer with a third victory in Spain with $4 million at 373, off only 16%. The ghost story, distribbed by Warner Bros., has topped $20 million in three weeks.

Sony’s “Surf’s Up” showed some spark with $5 million at 2,212, thanks mostly to a $2.9 million French debut. The toon’s foreign cume has hit $64.6 million from three dozen markets — $6 million ahead of the domestic total — in a performance that underlines the appetite for animated fare offshore.

Fox saw only moderate traction in Italy for its launch of “Live Free or Die Hard” (or “Die Hard 4.0,” as it’s known overseas) with $2 million at 427 — an exception to what’s been a mostly robust foreign performance. Foreign cume for the fourth iteration has hit $240.6 million to go along with $138 million domestic.

The Italian launch of “Die Hard” edged the first foreign opening of “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” with $1.8 million at 290 for Universal.

“Eastern Promises” debuted moderately in the U.K. with $1.3 million at 280. The awards season contender’s also cumed $3.8 million from four weeks in Spain.

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