‘Mamma’s’ leftovers rule foreign B.O.

Global audiences still watching summer fare

Even with the summer fading away, its successes have remained the dominant players at the foreign box office.

All films in the top six slots during the Aug. 29-31 frame — “The Dark Knight,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Hancock,” “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” and “Wall-E” — were holdover titles. Each had seen their first launches in June or July.

Strong holdover biz has kept overall international biz on track this year to match the 2007 record-setting box office numbers. The six major Hollywood studios have cumed $6.946 billion internationally as of Sept. 2, just 1% short of the 2007 pace, while total foreign biz has reached $10.18 billion, according to Fox Intl.

With no new markets opening, “The Dark Knight” still wound up easily winning the final summer session with $19.2 million at 6,500 playdates in 63 territories for a foreign cume of $417 million. The Batpic tacked on an additional $5.6 million on the first two days of September, portending that “Knight” will likely stay at or near the top of the international box office for several more weeks.

In Germany, for example, “The Dark Knight” dominated in its sophomore frame with $4.6 million, off 46%. New openers fared poorly against the Bat as Eddie Murphy comedy “Meet Dave” sputtered in fifth only $551,576 from 326, while Gurinder Chadha’s “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging” garnered $377,084 from 219 for sixth place.

With “The Dark Knight” domestic cume at $505 million as of Sept. 2, the combined worldwide gross has hit $927 million — seventh-highest of all time.

“Mamma Mia!” took the same route, posting sensational late-summer biz mostly via holdovers. As of Sept. 2, the tuner had eclipsed $260 million overseas — nearly doubling the previous international record for a musical set by best picture Oscar winner “Chicago.”

The “Mamma Mia!” foreign figure’s only sixth on the list of 2008 releases, trailing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” at $466 million, “The Dark Knight,” “Kung Fu Panda” at $388 million “Hancock” at $353 million and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” at $269 million. But “Mamma” has launched in only 33 markets and has France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea still to come.

U.K. biz for “Mamma” has been particularly impressive with $108 million in eight weeks — the top gross of any 2008 pic in Blighty. Germany’s cume has hit $31 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing pic of the year behind “Hancock,” “Voyage to the Center of the Earth” and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

“Mamma” has also cumed $27 million in Oz and nearly $16 million in Sweden, home turf for Abba, along with $12 million in Norway, $5.5 million in Denmark and $3 million in Finland. Songs penned by the music group served as the inspiration for the stage play and film.

“Kung Fu Panda” has also generated consistent foreign grosses throughout its three-month run, with staggered release dates to take advantage of local holidays. In Italy, “Panda” wiped the floor with its rivals as it bowed with $6.5 million — far above the third frame of “Prince Caspian” with $912,815, the opening of Neil Marshall’s “Doomsday” with $512,543 and the soph sesh of “Meet Dave” with $372,129.

“Panda” has been a success in every major market with the U.K. leading the way with nearly $39 million, followed by South Korea at $28.6 million, France at $27.4 million, Oz at $24.7 million, Germany at $24.5 million, Mexico at $22 million, Spain at $21.5 million and Russia at $20.6 million.

“Hancock” showed some serious punch with a $7.9 million launch in Japan, its final foreign market. The results underlined the power of Will Smith overseas since “Hancock” and “I Am Legend” have combined for nearly $700 million in foreign grosses.

Michael Day in Italy and Ed Meza in Germany contributed to this report.

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