Will Smith pic grosses almost $400 million

Will Smith starrer “I Am Legend” has grossed $169.3 million at the international box office for a phenomenal worldwide haul of nearly $400 million, but it’s “The Golden Compass” that’s proving to be the real legend overseas.

“Compass” came in second overseas for the weekend of Jan. 4-6, grossing $33 million for a whopping international cume of $228 million in the fantasy pic’s fourth frame. That compares with a far more modest North American gross of $65.7 million.

“Legend” — the market leader for the frame — and “Compass” delivered a one-two punch for a third straight weekend to get international moviegoing in 2008 off on the right foot.

“Legend” stayed solid with $33 million from 3,900 prints in three dozen markets for a beefy $169.3 million foreign cume, while “Compass,” off 7,000 playdates in 59 territories, continued to tally amazing numbers.

With many markets still on holiday break, overall offshore biz remained robust, with five additional pics — “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Enchanted,” “Bee Movie” and “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem” — topping $13 million apiece.

The top seven films on international screens combined for about $140 million. With the exception of “I Am Legend” and the “AVP” sequel, family fare dominated.

“Legend” debuted impressively in Australia with $8.5 million, more than double the bow of “Alvin,” and stayed sturdy in the U.K. with a 38% decline to $8 million in its second frame for a $37 million Brit cume. “Legend” also dominated in its Greek debut with $1.9 million and in New Zealand with $1.1 million.

The Will Smith starrer has been outperforming similar titles such as “Minority Report” and “I, Robot,” each of which cumed more than $200 million internationally. It should continue to top the foreign charts next weekend as it heads into Germany and Italy.

New Line’s “Compass” remains a paradoxical performer whose B.O. underlines the widespread appeal of fantasy fare outside the U.S. With its fifth-frame foreign grosses coming in at $29 million, it did more than 10 times the pic’s domestic take of $2.7 million over the frame.

For the Jan. 4-6 frame, Disney’s “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” came in third, hunting down $20.3 million at 4,382 in 31 markets, thanks to solid holds in major territories. Russian grosses edged up 1% to $3.1 million in the pic’s second frame, and Japanese biz bumped up 13% to $2 million in its third.

Sequel has cumed $102 million overseas. With openings still coming in France, Germany and the U.K., “Book of Secrets” will top studio expectations and easily surpass the $174 million foreign cume of the original.

Fox’s live-action/CGI hybrid “Alvin” chirped its way to $15.8 million at 4,200 in 49 markets for a $65 million foreign cume, as the comedy continued to generate respectable grosses in its fourth frame, as opposed to its socko Stateside take. Top numbers came from its Oz launch, with $3.5 million; declines in the U.K., Germany, France and Mexico were all at less than 30%.

Worldwide, “Alvin” has grossed $239.7 million.

Disney’s innovative princess tale “Enchanted” placed No. 5 for the Jan. 4-6 frame, conjuring up $14.5 million at 5,370 in 43 markets with average holds of 25% and an international cume of $138 million — $20 million ahead of the domestic total. Brits remained charmed, with $3.1 million in the film’s fourth frame, off 28% for a $28 million cume, while the third French sesh slid just 14% to $2.7 million. Pic has outperformed studio forecasts and appears likely to top $200 million offshore.

Paramount’s “Bee Movie” stayed in flight overseas with $14.3 million at 4,884 in 60 markets, pushing its international cume to $132 million. Best “Bee” number came from a No. 1 launch in South Korea, with $2.7 million.

Fox’s counterprogramming foray with “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem” continued to scare up respectable biz, with $12.5 million at 3,000 in 33 markets for a $37 million foreign cume. Best numbers came from a $3.1 million French launch and a $1.7 million Mexican debut.

Fox’s Russian production “Irony of Fate 2″ remained a massive hit in that market, with $9 million on 905, giving the romantic comedy a three-week cume of $23.8 million and putting it at No. 8 internationally for the weekend.

Awards season fare is continuing to expand steadily overseas. Universal’s “American Gangster” gunned $5.5 million at 1,553 in 32 markets, including launches in Argentina and Denmark, for a foreign cume of $72.5 million; Denzel Washington vehicle heads into the U.K. next weekend.

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