‘Simpsons’ on top overseas

Film's overseas box office to date is $187 mil

Homer and Marge are still living large outside the United States as “The Simpsons Movie” easily led a healthy weekend at the international box office, adding $47.3 million from 6,627 runs in 75 markets to bring the toon’s worldwide take to a tidy $315.5 million in 12 days.

Summer biz offshore remained robust as four other pics — “Transformers,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Ratatouille” and Korean monster pic “D-War” — combined for another $100 million. The performance dwarfs the same frame last year, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” led with $57 million, while the next four (“Superman Returns,” “Miami Vice,” “Cars,” “Garfield 2”) combined for a mere $27 million.

“The Simpsons” yukked it up on their way past “Transformers” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to tally $187 million overseas to date. The 20th Century Fox pic showed decent traction with a $7,148 per-location average and declines in the 50% range in most markets following its stellar $96.8 million launch.A surprise from the weekend was the feisty showing of Showbox’s “D-War.” Pic, centered on a massive snake destroying downtown L.A., turned in a monstrous bow at the local box office with an estimated $19.2 million at 530 screens. Should estimates hold, “D-War” could break the $18 million Korean launch record set in May by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” The English-language pic’s set for a Stateside release next month as “Dragon Wars.”

For the Hollywood majors, foreign biz has stayed socko throughout the year, with box office now an eye-popping 20% ahead of the same point in 2006. For the first time, five studios have crossed the billion-dollar mark with Sony hitting the milestone first, followed by Warner, Disney, Fox and Paramount a week ago.

“The Simpsons Movie” turned in its top number in the U.K. with $8.7 million, off 53%, for a Brit cume of $49.5 million. “Simpsons” logged a solid $7 million Mexican launch, 19% behind “Ice Age 2,” which set the animated record in Mexico last year. Its steepest declines came against launches by rivals, including a 62% hit to $5.4 million in Germany, where the “Transformers” edged it for the top slot, and a 60% drop in France to $3.8 million as “Ratatouille” opened strongly.

The “Simpsons” soph sesh in Australia declined 50% to $5.3 million and 54% in Spain to $3.4 million. And its $1.4 million Danish launch represented the second highest animated opening in that market.

“Simpsons” has performed in line with Fox’s foreign forecasts and looks likely to have enough gas in the tank to reach the $300 million foreign mark. It opens next weekend in Taiwan, followed by Brazil, Holland, Russia and South Korea later this month and Italy in September.

“Transformers” remained a solid overseas player with $30 million at 6,118 in 53 markets, led by first-place launches in Germany with $5.5 million and Japan with $5.4 million, 5% better than “Mission: Impossible 3.”

Second-frame biz declined 52% in the U.K. to $4.7 million and 49% in France to $3 million as the actioner’s foreign cume hit $296 million, nearly matching the domestic total.

“Transformers,” which has exceeded Par’s expectations offshore, should become the 48th pic to hit the $300 million international mark in a few days. It will be the fifth summer tentpole — but first non-sequel — to cross that milestone this summer after “Spider-Man 3,” “Pirates 3,” “Harry Potter 5” and “Shrek the Third.”

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” continued to conjure up respectable biz in its fourth frame with a 49% decline to $25.2 million from 9,700 prints in 59 markets, elevating the foreign cume to $509.7 million — 15th highest of all time. Japan led the way with $4.1 million, followed by the U.K. with $3.1 million for a Brit cume of $84.4 million.

“Phoenix” should surpass the $540 million foreign cume for “Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban” — the only other Potter pic to open in the summer — but it’s unclear if it can match the other three films in the franchise in reaching the $600 million mark. The quintet as whole has grossed nearly $3 billion overseas and $4.2 million worldwide. “Phoenix” goes into its final markets next weekend in Turkey and China.

“Ratatouille” chowed down $24.5 million at 4,320 in 26 markets, led by a tasty first-place $11.4 million launch in France, where the Pixar toon’s set. That represented the second-largest Disney animated opening after “Finding Nemo” in France.

“Ratatouille” also led with a $3.5 million debut in Spain and in openings in Belgium, Holland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Hungary. And it held well in Japan with a 29% decline to $2.1 million and in South Korea with an 18% drop to $1.3 million.

The rat tale’s foreign gross has been in line with performances of other Pixar pics such as “The Incredibles,” which cumed $362 million outside the United States. Disney’s taken in $83 million overseas with “Ratatouille” as it’s opted to wait until the fall for other key markets such as Australia, Germany, Italy and the U.K.

Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard” led the rest of the pack with $7 million at 4,000 in 39 markets, including an impressive $2.2 million Brazilian launch. “Die Hard 4.0,” as it’s known offshore, has met Fox expectations with a solid $191 million foreign cume; openings are still to come in Australia next weekend, followed by Spain and Italy in the fall.

Universal, which has backloaded its international slate this year, saw moderate results from “Evan Almighty” in its first moves into major markets with $6.2 million at 1,360 for a $4,559 per-site average. “Evan,” which fell short of expectations Stateside with $97 million, opened in fourth in the U.K. with $2.3 million and in second in Brazil and Mexico with $1.3 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

Predecessor pic “Bruce Almighty” had been a solid overseas success with $241 million in 2003. “Evan” opens next weekend in Germany.

Par’s “Shrek the Third” padded its foreign take with another $3.5 million at 3,404 in 54 markets, lifting the ogre’s international cume to $406.8 million — 27th on the all-time list and $70 million short of “Shrek 2.” Warner’s “Ocean’s Thirteen” added $1.4 million at 1,300 for a foreign total of $162.4 million; Disney’s “Pirates 3” took in $1.1 million at 2,264 for a $647.1 million foreign cume.

Universal reported “Knocked Up” took in $1.5 million at 464 in eight markets and Sony’s “Vacancy” scared up $1 million at 590 in 21 territories.

With major tentpoles starting to play out, next weekend’s competition should be wide open. The frame will see U’s first foreign launches of “The Bourne Ultimatum” in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and the Mideast; “Ocean’s Thirteen” in Japan; “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” in France, Korea and Spain; and a day-and-date launch of “Rush Hour 3” in the U.K.

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