'Who' stays on top at foreign box office

With foreign box office in a pre-summer holding pattern, “Horton Hears a Who!” stayed on top for the third consecutive frame with $10.6 million at 5,300 playdates in 56 markets.

Sony’s “21” made the biggest splash in an otherwise quiet session with $8.1 million at only 975 as it opened in first in five markets with a robust $8,319 per-location average.

Besides “Horton” and “21,” only four other pics topped the $4 million mark — dance sequel “Step Up 2 to the Streets,” fantasy “The Spiderwick Chronicles” and French comedies “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” and “Disco.” With spring holidays ending, studios have opted for a few targeted openings until tentpole season begins next month with “Iron Man,” “Speed Racer,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Sony’s domestic winner “Prom Night” scared up a moderate $850,000 at 123 sites in Australia, good enough for third place, and Fox’s “Street Kings” grabbed $1.3 million at 325 in 10 small markets, including first places in Thailand and Singapore.

George Clooney’s “Leatherheads” showed modest traction in its first major foreign openings with a third-place $1.2 million at 181 in Italy — in line with Universal’s forecast — and a sixth-place British take of $1 million. And Fox’s British launch of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones docu “Shine a Light” generated $704,000 at 160 for a less-than-stellar $4,400 per-location take.

Underlining the foreign appetite for family fare, “Horton” posted decent holdover numbers with a 15% gain in its French soph sesh to $3.8 million and a 7% hike in its fourth British frame to $1.2 million. The tale of the big-hearted elephant’s hit $104.9 million offshore, joining “10,000 BC” and “Jumper” as the third U.S. title released this year to top the $100 million mark overseas.

Fox noted that “Horton” has far exceeded foreign perfs for previous Dr. Suess pics “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($85 million) and “The Cat in the Hat” ($35 million). With openings still coming in Italy, Japan and South Korea, the studio expects the CGI toon’s final foreign cume to nearly match the domestic total, now at $139.6 million.

“21” played a winning hand, led by $3.2 million in the U.K., $2.2 million in Germany, $1.9 million in Spain, $425,000 in Sweden and $325,000 in Greece. Amid muted competition, the gambling thriller may have an opportunity to cash in during the rest of April with expansions to Brazil, Italy and Russia next weekend.

Dany Boon’s megahit “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” remained a must-see in France, Belgium and Switzerland with $6.5 million at about 1,000 to take the cume past $190 million. With more than 18 million tickets sold, Pathe’s “Ch’tis” has already topped the previous record for a French-made pic (1966’s “La Grande Vadrouille”) and could eventually match the “Titanic” mark of 20.8 million.

“Ch’tis,” which is now in its seventh frame, also topped the soph sesh of Studio Canal’s spoof “Disco,” which slid 50% to $4.1 million at 824.

Another dance pic, Universal/Summit’s “Step Up 2 the Streets” kicked up $4.9 million at 1,697 in 32 markets, led by a $1.5 million French launch and a Brit fourth frame of $1.4 million. The sequel has cumed $71 million overseas, 23% better than the domestic total.

Par’s “Spiderwick Chronicles” conjured up $4.3 million at 3,025 to bring the foreign cume past $66 million — only $4 million short of the domestic total.

A trio of titles topped the $3 million mark: Universal/Summit’s “Nim’s Island” with $3.6 million at 808; Fox’s “Shutter” with $3.1 million at 1,100; and Disney’s “The Game Plan” with $3 million at 1,500 for a foreign cume of $47.5 million.

Sony’s local production of “Casi Divas” launched in first place in Mexico with $920,000 at 350.

Despite the recent lack of a major hit, year-to-date international box office for the big six Hollywood studios is 2% ahead of last year thanks to strong holdover 2007 releases such as “I Am Legend,” “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” “Enchanted” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” plus solid perfs by “10,000 BC” and “Jumper.”

“10,000 BC” took in $2.8 million at 3,300 during the weekend to hit $158.6 million overseas.

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