Musical adaptation still tops foreign box office

International powerhouse “Mamma Mia!” continued to croon sweetly at the foreign box office, raking in $14 million at 4,539 playdates in 48 markets to lead an otherwise moderate frame.

Thanks to sensational holdover biz in every market, Universal’s feel-good tuner has led the foreign B.O. for three straight frames and totaled a dazzling $334 million overseas — 70% of its worldwide total of $475 million.

The pic’s third South Korean frame fell only 29% to $2.9 million, and its 11th U.K. weekend declined 37% to $1.4 million for a Brit cume of $118.8 million, the fourth highest in that market after “Titanic” and the first editions in the “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” series. “Mamma” declined 34% in its French soph sesh to $2 million and opened in first in Singapore with $399,000.

The Meryl Streep vehicle shows no signs of losing steam in foreign markets with a dozen territories to go, including next weekend in Russia and the following frame in Italy.

“Mamma” has proven a tonic at a time when international moviegoing’s typically at a slow pace as studios opt not to go day-and-date with Stateside openings. This weekend’s domestic leader, “Lakeview Terrace,” won’t launch in foreign markets until October, for example.

Universal, which remains by far the most active studio offshore, also saw solid numbers from “Wanted” with $11.6 million at 2,627 in 34 markets — mostly from a socko $7.7 million Japanese launch. The Angelina Jolie starrer’s gunned $172 million overseas, underlining the traction for action in foreign multiplexes.

“Tropic Thunder” took in $8.1 million at 1,649 in 26 territories, finding solid footing in Europe with victories in openings in the U.K. at $4.3 million and Germany at $1.5 million. The pic has cumed $29 million overseas, but may have difficulty matching its domestic total (now at $106.8 million) by the end of its run.

That’s often the pattern among American comedies, with recent exceptions including “Sex and the City” with $253 million, “What Happens in Vegas” with $132 million and “Meet Dave” with $33.7 million (nearly triple its domestic cume). “Get Smart” has cumed $95.8 million overseas, and “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” is at $90.2 million near the end of its run; “Step Brothers” has hit $15.6 million from a dozen markets, and “Pineapple Express” is at $8.4 million in six.

Family fave “Wall-E” scooped up $6.6 million at 2,700, mostly thanks to No. 1 launches in Australia ($3.1 million), Greece and New Zealand. The Disney-Pixar vehicle’s become the 10th pic released this year to top $200 million.

Two other summer successes padded their totals as “Hancock” took in $6.1 million at 1,515 to lift the foreign cume to $387 million and “The Dark Knight” grabbed $4 million at 3,500 to move its international box office to $455.7 million — less than $10 million behind “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” as 2008′s top overseas title.

With $522 million domestically, “The Dark Knight” is now only $22 million short of joining “Titanic,” the final “The Lord of the Rings” film and the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” as the only films to gross $1 billion worldwide.

The frame also saw Warner Bros. win first place in Spain, as Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” opened to a solid $3.2 million — more than double the debut of “The Strangers.” Disney’s Holocaust drama “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” performed impressively in its second Brit frame, with $895,000, down just 5%.

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