Tarantino's 'Death' cume at $10 million

“Shrek the Third” grabbed the most green overseas with a solid $48.6 million at 5,737 playdates in 45 markets, dominating a healthy frame at the international box office that is keeping foreign biz well ahead of last year’s record-setting pace.

The top four films combined for an impressive $112 million, as three other pics — “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” — topped $20 million each.

The quartet of tentpoles took in three times the combined grosses of the top four films in the same frame last year (“Poseidon,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Cars” and “X-Men 3″), when soccer’s World Cup chilled moviegoing.

With tentpoles dominant, counterprogramming forays such as Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” have struggled. Released as part of “Grindhouse” Stateside, “Death” has turned in tepid numbers in Europe, with an international cume around $10 million from 10 markets. In France, it was off 53% in its third frame for a $3.5 million cume; Italian biz in its fourth weekend was mild as it lost more than 100 playdates and brought in just $65,000.

French patrons were much more interested in maintaining support for “Shrek the Third” in its second frame, with biz sliding only 20% to $7.5 million, pushing that market’s cume to $21.5 million. Paramount pic was most monstrous at launches in Germany, with $8.2 million at 834, in line with “Shrek 2,” and in Spain, with $6.7 million at 757, 4% ahead of “Ice Age 2.” And the ogre set a pair of animated opening records in Belgium with $2.4 million at 125, 16% higher than “Ice Age 2,” and in Portugal, with $1.1 million at 67.

Brazilian biz stayed beefy with a 48% decline to $3.1 million for a market total of $11 million.

With several key markets such as Japan and the U.K. not yet open, “Shrek the Third” has underlined the strong appetite for animated fare, particularly among franchise properties. It’s already grossed $171 million overseas for a worldwide cume of $479 million — more than halfway to the final numbers for “Shrek 2.”

Fox’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” led the rest of the pack with $22.1 million at 8,451 in 44 markets, led by a solid Mexican launch of $5.7 million at 1,070 and a more-than-respectable British soph sesh with $4.1 million at 479, down 48%. But the Australian opening came in well below other recent tentpole launches with $2.4 million at 343.

“Surfer” saw its foreign cume hit $57 million, with launches next frame in Argentina and Brazil, while Fox holds off on several major markets until August. Its combined worldwide take has hit $154 million — 44% of the final worldwide cume for “Fantastic Four” two years ago.

“Ocean’s Thirteen” continued to collect notable counterprogramming coin with $21.3 million at 5,700 in 49 markets, led by its opening French frame with $4.7 million at 766 to finish second to the second frame of “Shrek the Third.” Holdover biz was highest from the third frames in the U.K., with $2.1 million at 687, down 41%, and in Germany, with $2.1 million at 776; Korean takings declined 45% in the soph sesh to $1.9 million, while Oz soph grosses slid 47% to $1.8 million.

“Thirteen” hit the $100 million mark in foreign grosses to bring the combined worldwide total to $191 million – 53% of the final worldwide cume for “Ocean’s Twelve.” It opens next weekend in Mexico.

BVI’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” showed little fatigue in its fifth frame, declining 41% with $20.4 million at 10,538 to push the international cume to $584.6 million — the seventh-highest of all time, as the buccaneers topped “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” Third “Pirates” pic is now less than $60 million behind the final foreign take of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men’s Chest” and has surpassed it in 20 markets, mostly in Asia and Latin America.

Japanese biz for the third “Pirates” pic remained stellar with a 27% slide to $4.7 million at 838 for a fifth straight first-place finish and a $68.3 million cume. Second frame in China, its final market, showed decent traction with a 44% decline to $2.2 million at 900, lifting cume to $11.1 million; Brit biz held nicely with a 35% decrease to $2.1 million at 525 for a Blighty cume of $75.5 million.

On a worldwide basis, “At World’s End” has taken in more than two-thirds of its box office outside the U.S. Its combined gross of $871.6 million ranks as the 12th biggest of all time, and it’s likely to overtake the second installment of “Harry Potter” and “Spider-Man 3″ by the end of the week.

For its part, “Spider-Man 3″ remained only slightly visible in its eighth frame with $1.5 million at 2,850, lifting foreign cume to $546.8 million and worldwide to $880 million.

“Evan Almighty,” the U.S. box office winner, opened respectably in Russia and the Ukraine with $1.7 million at 393, 10% better than “Bruce Almighty.” The Steve Carell laffer’s waiting until August to hit most major overseas markets.

Traction for tentpoles signaled that upcoming entries “Live Free or Die Hard,” “Transformers” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” carry impressive potential in foreign markets.

Counterprogramming, meanwhile, was rather limited. Paramount’s “Blades of Glory” took in $2.3 million at 571 in 26 markets — nearly all of that from launches in Australia and New Zealand.

Warner’s “Zodiac” scared up $1.87 million at 1,400 in 44 markets to lift foreign cume to $40.8 million. Sony’s “Hostel: Part 2″ grabbed $1.5 million, and its “Surf’s Up” grossed $850,000.

Universal’s “Hot Fuzz” grabbed $1 million at 380, led by its second German frame with $470,000 at 292 and its Korean launch with $365,000 at 100, pushing the international total to $52.4 million.

“Mr. Bean’s Holiday” grossed $300,000 at 690 dates in 25 territories in its 13th week of release, pushing the foreign cume to $183.9 million, with U opening the Brit laffer in August in the U.S.

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