French laffer 'Bievenue' gaining

Cavemen adventure “10,000 BC” hunted down the top slot at the international box office over the weekend, tallying $25.3 million at 3,600 playdates in 20 markets. But offbeat French comedy “Bievenue chez les Ch’tis” did nearly as much business in its third weekend in Gaul.

“Ch’tis,” in fact, could wind up in first place once figures are finalized, as it finished with a socko $25.2 million from 793 French locations for Pathe, off 26% from its bow as it pushed its French cume past $70 million in less than three weeks. Film, from writer-director Danny Boon, centers on a postal worker forced to relocate to the region bordering Belgium and the English Channel.

“Ch’tis,” the nickname for the uncouth locals, scored $5.7 million in a smallish first-week launch followed by a stunning $34.1 million as it expanded nationwide last weekend. It joins “Asterix at the Olympic Games” as the second big French hit of 2008; the latter grossed more than $115 million in Europe.

Warner’s “10,000 BC” showed solid traction with first-place finishes in 19 markets, led by Spain with $4.5 million and a 51% share of the top five, Mexico with $3.8 million and 59% share, Germany with $2.6 million and Australia with $1.9 million. And it scored well in action-oriented territories as Brazil came in with $1.6 million, India with $1.4 million, Taiwan with $1.2 million and Thailand, also with $1.2 million and a 74% share.

Going day-and-date overseas gave “10,000 BC” a combined $61 million worldwide launch frame. Warner Bros. is hoping “10,000 BC” can show similar foreign staying power as “300,” which topped $245 million internationally a year ago.

“10,000 BC” probably will remain dominant for several more sessions, with expansions next weekend to France, Holland, Italy, South Korea and the U.K.

Overseas action fans continued to support Fox’s “Jumper,” with $12.2 million at 4,000 in 49 markets, to lift its international cume past $96 million — $24 million ahead of the domestic total. Its Japanese launch of $5.2 million came in second to local animated entry “Nobita and the Green Giant Legend,” the latest in the Doraemon series.

Sony’s political thriller “Vantage Point” saw its way to a respectable $10.5 million at 2,870 in 31 markets, including a first-place Brit launch of $2.8 million. “Point” has hit $28 million overseas early in its foreign run, pushing the worldwide total to $80 million.

Best picture Oscar winner “No Country for Old Men” stayed a player, with $6.7 million at 1,863 in 51 markets, led by its third Italian sesh of $1.3 million. “No Country” has totaled $60 million overseas — trailing 2006’s best pic winner “The Departed,” which raked in $155 million internationally, but well ahead of 2005’s “Crash,” which did $44 million offshore.

Two other kudos players saw notable post-Oscar biz, as Miramax’s “There Will Be Blood” drew $3.4 million at 1,080 in 27 territories while Fox’s “Juno” grossed $2.6 million at 1,146. “Blood” has cumed $23 million overseas while “Juno” has topped $45 million.

Sony’s “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” swam in with $5.4 million at 2,675 in 39 markets, pushing the foreign cume to $46 million — $5 million ahead of the Stateside total, in a perf showing that even moderate-scale fantasy pics can usually gain traction internationally.

U’s royal drama “The Other Boleyn Girl” turned in one of the weekend’s better per-location averages, with $4.7 million at 980 in a dozen markets, including a second-place Brit launch of $2 million.

Three other pics topped $3 million: Fox’s “27 Dresses” with $4 million at 1,900 for a $39 million total; Fox’s “Meet the Spartans” with $3.5 million at 1,400 for an $18.3 million foreign cume; and Warner’s “The Bucket List” with $3.3 million at 1,700 for a $46.9 million offshore total.

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