Musical brings in $15.3 at foreign box office

Underlining its status as an international sensation, “Mamma Mia!” warbled its way to a fourth straight victory at the foreign box office with $15.3 million at 4,562 playdates in 49 markets.

Frame also saw “Wall-E” continue its steady overseas performance with $11.1 million at 3,440 in 33 territories. And domestic leader “Eagle Eye” generated moderate biz in a limited launch with $4.2 million at 1,043 in 13 countries, led by $1.4 million in Australia.

“Mamma Mia!” has kept the overall biz healthy at a time when moviegoing’s typically modest. With the combo of a socko Russian launch plus its trademark strong holdovers, pic has cumed $356.4 million overseas — dwarfing its still-impressive domestic total of $142.2 million.

“Mamma Mia!” opened with $4.3 million in Russia for Universal’s fourth best debut in that market and won its fourth Korean frame with $2 million, off only 20%. And the movie remained remarkably resilient in the U.K. in its 12th weekend with a smallish 15% decline to $1.1 million for a Brit cume of $120.9 million — leaving it just short of eclipsing “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” as the third-highest grosser in that market, trailing only “Titanic” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

With an Italian launch next weekend, “Mamma Mia!” looks likely to keep minting money outside the U.S. for several more frames. The tuner will probably surpass “Hancock” at $391.7 million and “Kung Fu Panda” at $411.2 million to become the third-largest international grosser of 2008 — trailing only “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” at $465 million and “The Dark Knight” at $460 million.

Frame saw Hollywood studios mostly sticking with summer fare such as family favorite “Wall-E,” which launched impressively in Germany with $5.4 million and topped local drama “The Baader Meinhof Complex” at $4.5 million. The Disney-Pixar toon declined only 28% in its Australian soph sesh and has cumed $215.4 million overseas.

“Wall-E” opens in mid-October in Italy and in December in Japan, where Pixar pics tend to generate their top foreign numbers.

Paramount’s “Tropic Thunder” led the rest of the pack with a respectable $7.5 million at 2,078 in 35 markets, led by its second session in the U.K., where takings declined 33% to $2.5 million. “Thunder” has cumed $41 million overseas but probably won’t match its domestic total (now at $108.8 million) by the end of its run.

That’s often the pattern for American comedies such as “Get Smart” with $96.8 million overseas and “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” at $93.7 million, both near the end of their foreign runs. And laffers without major international stars continue to find the going tough internationally — such as “Step Brothers” with $18.9 million from 20 markets and “The House Bunny,” which launched mildly with $755,000 at 231 in three markets, including seventh place in Australia.

By contrast, actioners keep finding traction offshore, such as Universal’s duo: “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” scared up $5.6 million at 2,969 in four dozen markets, led by a $3.7 million Italian launch as the foreign cume hit $283 million; “Wanted” took in $4 million at 1,691 to push its international total to $182.6 million.

The frame also saw Disney win first place in Spain with an impressive $3 million opening of Holocaust drama “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” topping the soph sesh of Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” “Pajamas,” which opened at the San Sebastian Film Festival earlier in the week, has cumed $6.6 million from the U.K. and Spain, with the U.S. launch set for November.

Fox’s “Taken” took $2.2 million in its Brit launch to push foreign grosses to $24 million from 14 markets. The abduction thriller won’t open domestically until January.

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