Film brings in $59.5 million in 28 markets

“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” came alive with a vengeance overseas, opening with a stellar $59.5 million at 3,559 playdates in 28 markets.

Universal’s third “Mummy” movie showed plenty of offshore traction, with a sparkling $16,700 per-screen average, or 48% higher than the domestic figure. “Emperor” took in more than the combined total of the next two pics — “The Dark Knight,” which posted solid holdover biz with $37 million at 6,468 in 51 markets for a $202.5 million cume, and “Wall-E” with $15.7 million at 3,000 in two dozen territories.

South Korea led the way for “Emperor” with $13.3 million in what was the biggest launch for a non-local pic this year, followed by $12.7 million in Russia and $6.7 million in Spain. Each figure repped the best launch ever for U pics in those three markets.

“Emperor” also debuted impressively in Latin America, led by $5.1 million in Mexico and $3.1 million in Brazil in the biggest launch ever for a Universal pic in the region. It was the same story in Asian and European mid-level markets such as Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey, where the Mummy pic racked up either the best or second-best opening for a U film.

International prospects for “Emperor” look bright, given the strong foreign appetite for action pics and its international settings and cast, along with the franchise’s strong hold on international audiences. The original “Mummy” grossed $260 million overseas, and “The Mummy Returns” generated $230 million in foreign coin.

Universal noted that “Emperor” came in 55% ahead of the combined totals of opening weekends of the two previous “Mummy” pics in the same markets. “Emperor” expands into 23 more markets Friday, including France, Germany and the U.K.

U’s international topper David Kosse noted “Emperor” had benefited from its trailer going out with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

U has already enjoyed a solid summer, with three pics topping $100 million internationally — “Mamma Mia!” ($140.7 million), “Wanted” ($115.6 million) and “The Incredible Hulk” ($111.5 million). “Mamma” continued to dazzle, declining just 10% to $14.6 million at 2,310 in 22 markets, with British biz rising an impressive 9% in its fourth frame to $6.1 million for a 24-day cume of $63.8 million.

Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight” remained remarkably healthy with just a 39% decline despite no new openers. The U.K. stayed solid with a 25% decline to $12.9 million, while the Australian cume hit $31.8 million, making the Batpic the top grosser of the year in Oz.

“Knight” should see a major boost next weekend from launches in Japan and South Korea, followed by openings the following frame in France, Russia and Spain. On Sunday, it became the eighth 2008 title to cross the $200 million mark in foreign grosses, following Par’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” at $459 million, “Kung Fu Panda” at $328 million, “Hancock” at $319.1 million, “Iron Man” at $252 million, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” at $246 million, “Sex and the City” at $232 million and French sensation “Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis” at $215 million.

As with most family pics, “Panda” has opted for a staggered international release pattern and quietly dug up one of the top 50 foreign grosses of all time, matching “Madagascar.” The current frame saw “Panda” put its paws on $11 million at 6,129 in 60 markets.

Disney’s “Wall-E,” following a similar go-slow release, launched impressively in first place in France with $7.2 million to pull its foreign total to $95 million while still early in its run. The Pixar toon expands next weekend to South Korea and Spain.

The frame’s only downbeat development came from Fox’s expansion of “X-Files: I Want to Believe,” which continued to generate only moderate biz, with $9.2 million at 3,950 in 40 markets. The two-week foreign cume for the sequel has totaled $22 million.

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