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‘Madagascar 2’ still an overseas hit

'Australia' No. 1 at home for second week

DreamWorks Animation/ Paramount’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” stormed Europe over the Dec. 5-7 weekend when it came in No. 1 at the international box office with an impressive haul of $51 million from 5,009 playdates all the way in its sixth sesh.

It’s still too early to predict final international results for 20th Century Fox’s Baz Luhrmann epic “Australia.” Outside of North America, the Nicole Kidman-Hugh Jackman starrer is only playing in Australia, where it came in No. 1 for the second weekend running.

“Australia” grossed $2.65 million from 642 screens, the largest rollout ever in that country, for a 12-day cume of $9.6 million. Disney’s “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” gave Australia a run for its money, grossing $2.6 million.

Luhrmann’s film will expand into a number of territories over the long Christmas holiday.

Among other relatively new offerings, Warner Bros. Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy “Four Christmases” continued to find mixed sledding at the international box office.

Laffer took in a respectable $1.5 million in its second U.K. frame, and launched moderately with $1.1 million in Australia. However, “Christmases” was DOA with $310,500 at 155 in its German launch.

“Escape 2 Africa” took in more than the combined total of the next four films; “Twilight” ($10.9 million), “Quantum of Solace” ($10.5 million), “Bolt” ($9.7 million) and “Transporter 3” ($6 million).

Par and DreamWorks Animation have been rolling out “Escape 2 Africa” slowly, a strategy that seems to be paying off. Through Dec. 7, film’s foreign cume was $126.4 million in its sixth week.

“Escape 2 Africa” enjoyed soaring bows in the U.K., Germany and France.

In the U.K., “Escape” dominated business, grossing $9.3 million — including $3.5 million in previews from the previous Saturday and Sunday — from 520 runs.

Results in Germany were even better. At $11.4 million, toon surpassed the initial weekend gross of its 2005 predecessor “Madagascar” by $2.2 million. Box office in Gaul soared 105.5% on the strength of “Escape 2 Africa” and “Quantum of Solace,” as well as Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which was helped by rave reviews.

“Escape 2 Africa” banked a tidy $9.4 million in its first five day at the French box office; that makes it the fifth best opening of the year.

“Twilight,” the No. 2 title at the international box office, continued to do respectable business in its second sesh, bringing its foreign cume to $138.4 million. “Twilight” enjoyed a first-place $5.3 million launch in Spain.

“Twilight” notched its third straight victory in Italy, where femmes are showing an especially voracious appetite for the vampire romance. Pic grossed $1.5 million from 404 runs for a running cume of $12.3 million via Eagle Pictures.

James Bond installment “Quantum of Solace,” from Sony Intl., remained a crowd pleaser in its sixth sesh, although it was toppled from its No. 1 spot by “Escape 2 Africa.” “Solace’s” running international cume was $357.9 million though Dec. 7, more than double its domestic gross of $151.2 million.

Placing No. 4 at the international box office was Disney toon “Bolt,” which grew its cume to $20 million in its second week in limited release. “Bolt” won’t hit most key markets until January. Pic fetched $9.5 million over the weekend at 1,392 in nine territories, led by Russia.

Landing at No. 5 was actioner “Transporter 3,” toplining Brit actor Jason Statham. Franchise installment may have been derided by critics in the U.K., but it saw an excellent opening weekend haul of $1.4 million via Icon.

That was considerably better that the openings for the two previous pics in the franchise, with bookers attributing the success to the homevid success of those two films.

David Hayhurst in Paris, Emilio Mayorga in Madrid, Dave McNary in Hollywood, Ed Meza in Berlin and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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