'Mamma' still dancing at foreign box office

“The Dark Knight” stayed bright at the foreign box office with a healthy $34 million at 7,700 playdates in 62 markets while “Mamma Mia!” kept up its dazzling overseas run.

With the summer winding down, the Batpic’s international cume has hit a boffo $381.2 million with a solid $9.2 million German launch. With its stunning domestic total at $489 million, Warner’s “Dark Knight” is now 13th on the list for combined worldwide grosses with $870 million — with an outside shot at joining “Titanic” and the third versions of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lord of the Rings” as the only pics to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.

And “Mamma Mia!” stayed stellar at foreign multiplexes with $12.5 million at 2,800 in 27 markets, hiking the offshore cume to an eye-popping $232.5 million — by far the best performance of a musical internationally, topping previous title holder “Chicago” by nearly $100 million. Universal’s feel-good vehicle has plenty of gas in the tank with two dozen markets left, including Brazil, France, Mexico, Russia and South Korea next month.

“Mamma” has significantly overperformed studio expectations in becoming the year’s eighth highest international grosser. Within the next few weeks, it should vault three places past “Sex and the City” ($240 million), “Iron Man ($252 million) and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” at $263.5 million.

“Mamma” has been scoring superb holds throughout its run such as in the U.K. with $3 million in its seventh weekend, off only 26%, for a $98.1 million Brit cume — the highest of 2008 and 11th all-time. And it declined just 15% in its sixth German frame to $2 million for a $28 million cume and launched in first in Taiwan with $460,000, 13% ahead of “Chicago.”

Universal also continued to find overseas coin with “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” with $12.8 million at 6,200 to push the foreign cume to $222.4 million — more than double the domestic take with Australia, China and Italy yet to open.

The frame also saw Sony’s “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” stay a solid overseas performer with $10.5 million at 1,985 in 30 markets, hiking its foreign cume to $56.6 million with the studio having opted to wait until the end of tentpole season to launch the Adam Sandler comedy. Best number came from Spain with $3.4 million, topping the second frame of “Dark Knight,” and in Germany with $3 million in its second frame.

Sandler’s yet to become a major draw internationally with “Click” racking up the best foreign gross among his previous pics at $100 million. “Zohan” expands to France next weekend.

Par’s taking a similar go-slow approach on “Tropic Thunder,” which scored $4.8 million at 803 in five markets. Ben Stiller’s Hollywood send-up scored best in Australia with $2.6 million to win the market that’s sometimes called the 51st state, because it’s the most likely among international territories to mimic U.S. performance for studio pics.

Disney also opted to avoid the tentpole crush with “Wall-E,” which scooped up $8.7 million at 3,905 in holdover biz from 32 markets and lifted foreign cume to $163 million while only halfway through its run. The toon held impressively in France, off just 1% to $2.7 million in its fourth frame.

“Wall-E” has a bright outlook, given that it’s largely avoided going head-to-head with Paramount’s “Kung Fu Panda” in competition for family audiences. “Panda” dug up $3.8 million at 3,285 to lift its foreign take to $372.1 million, trailing only “The Dark Knight” and Par’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” at $466 million.

Universal — which has already topped last year’s total foreign box office of $1.03 billion — was by far the most active distrib during the frame. Its “Hellboy 2” scored impressively with $7.2 million at 900, including a $5.3 million first-place British launch and “The Incredible Hulk” debuted smartly in China with $2.9 million on the final weekend of the Olympics to push foreign cume to $119 million, $6 million above the final international for 2003’s “Hulk.”

U also staged a smallish day-and-date launch for “Death Race” with $1.05 million at 173 in four Far Eastern markets but is holding off most markets until the fall.

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