Warner Bros.' epic clubs overseas competition

An f/x-charged action adventure again has flashed its muscle at the overseas box office.

Warner Bros.’ prehistoric epic “10,000 BC” grossed $39.2 million over the March 14-16 weekend. That’s the best offshore weekend haul for a Hollywood pic this year, besting Warners’ sci-fi tentpole “I Am Legend.”

“10,000 BC,” directed by Roland Emmerich, easily came in No. 1 at the international box office in its second sesh.

Film made its strongest play in the U.K. and Russia, with $3.8 million each. South Korea wasn’t far behind, posting B.O. receipts of $3.3 million. It also held decently in Mexico, where it declined 30% to $2.9 million.

Still, “10,000″ — with a domestic cume of $64.4 million through March 18 — isn’t expected to outdo Warners’ “300,” which bowed a year ago. Overseas, “300″ cumed $245 million.

Local films continued to make noise over the March 14-16 frame, led by French sleeper hit “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” which came in No. 2 overall for the weekend, grossing $27.2 million for a whopping cume of $115.1 million in its fourth frame.

That bested the $16 million pulled in by 20th Century Fox’s toon “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” which grossed $16 million from 29 territories in its day-and-date opening overseas. That’s a solid start, considering it opened in only four of the top-10 markets. Pic placed No. 3 at the international wickets for the March 14-16 frame. “Horton” made the most noise in Germany, where it grossed $2.7 million, followed by a $2.1 million haul in Spain and $1.9 million in Mexico.

Still, it was Teutonic drama “The Wave” that topped the German B.O. Boosted by its buzz at Sundance and plenty of media coverage in its home country, Dennis Gansel’s “Wave” was able to capsize last weekend’s champ “10,000 BC,” taking the top spot, with $3,271,602 from 279. The Constantin Film pic scored an excellent per-location average of $11,726.

In Spain, “Horton” came in second, with “10,000 BC” retaining the top spot.

“Fox didn’t hit the nail on the head,” a local booker says. “They didn’t exploit ‘Horton’s’ smart humor. Most people guessed it was a pic just for families and tykes.”

Sony’s “The Water Horse” sunk a disappointing 58% in its soph Spanish sesh for a $1.6 million cume.

” ‘Horse’ has a really off-putting title in Spanish (“My Monster and Me,” literally). Can you imagine a father alongside his son at the ticket booth: ‘Please, two tickets for ‘My Monster and Me,’ ” a distrib jokes.

In Italy, the numero uno spot was retained by local comic Carlo Verdone’s smash hit “Grande, grosso e Verdone” (Big, Bad and Verdone). But “10,000 BC” did score the Italo frame’s highest per-screen average — $6,330 — opening at No. 2, with $2.9 million from 454 via Warner Bros.

Nazi concentration camp-set “The Counterfeiters” opened strongly in Italy, taking $549,537 at just 98 via Wanda. The claustrophobic thriller, which collected the foreign-language Oscar, posted the weekend’s best copy average — $5,784.

The Italo frame’s biggest B.O. stinker was the belated release of New Line founder Bob Shaye’s kidpic “The Last Mimzy,” which drew only $40,000 from 69 screens via Eagle Pictures for the weekend’s lowest per-screen average — $580.

In the U.K., Caveman epic “10,000 BC” dragged home the kill for WB with a chart-topping opening of $3.8 million at 431 locations. Roland Emmerich’s prehistoric actioner also posted the weekend’s best location average: $8,896. Positive result was in line with industry expectations.

Brit horror “The Cottage” banked an underwhelming $601,325 at 260 for Pathe. Result for the adult-rated frightpic starring Andy Serkis met bookers’ modest expectations.

Colin Farrell starrer “In Bruges” continues to rustle up more than decent trade in Ireland. It followed up its punchy bow with a soph sesh decline of just 19% for a cume of $1.7 million. Pic opens in the U.K. on April 18.

Meanwhile, Sidney Lumet’s noir “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” opened at a lively $1.3 million off 277 via Medusa at No. 3.

Demonstrating Brit auds’ growing appetite for 3-D cinema, teen and tween girl-skewed “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus” pocketed $478,404 from just 65 screens. Location average of $7,360 trailed only “10,000 BC.”

Down only 13% on the week in its third frame, French smash “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” is still selling four times the tickets of its nearest rival in France. Averaging 3,050 viewers per screen nationwide, its cume now totals a mind-blowing $109.5 million for Pathe — putting it well on the way to being the biggest domestic grosser in French history.

New releases still managed some decent returns in France, though. “10,000 BC” earned $3.5 million in its first five days on 562 for Warners. Local cops-and-robbers caper “MR 73,” toplining Daniel Auteuil, made Gaumont $2.8 million on 622 over the same period.

Continuing the remarkable box office dominance being shown by local product, “Female Agents” (Les Femmes de l’ombre) fell off 28% in it second frame, cuming $4.3 million for TFM.

Gallic helmer Pierre Morel’s kidnapping/spy tale “Taken” was down only 12% on the week in its third frame. The cume for the EuropaCorp pic stands at $5.9 million.

Archie Thomas in London, Ed Meza in Germany, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Nick Vivarelli in Italy and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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