‘Millionaire,’ ‘Marley’ are top dogs

Oscar-champ, comedy lead foreign box office

It was less than a month ago that Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” jumped the $200 million mark at the worldwide box office in the wake of its top Oscar wins.

Now, several weeks later, “Slumdog’s” worldwide cume is a whopping $267 million, one of the top showings for an indie film. Through March 15, the film’s international total was roughly $135 million, slightly ahead of its domestic cume of $133 million.

Overseas, “Slumdog” has done the most business in the U.K., grossing north of $42 million. That’s followed by France, where its box office tally has just crossed $15 million.

“Slumdog” placed No. 3 overall at the international box office for the weekend of March 13-15, grossing roughly $13.1 million from 1,800 playdates in 23 territories. “Slumdog” may not reach the $300 million mark at the worldwide B.O., but it will likely come close.

Top spoils for the frame went to 20th Century Fox’s Jennifer Aniston-Owen Wilson dramedy “Marley and Me” in a surprise victory over Zack Snyder’s superhero pic “Watchmen.”

“Marley” grossed $14.2 million for the sesh as it continued to expand into additional markets, including a first-place launch in the U.K., where it grossed $6.3 million.

“Watchmen’s” overseas performance has been soft so far. The Warner Bros. pic distributed internationally by Paramount, declined 50% at the international B.O. in its second sesh, grossing $13.1 million from 4,962 runs in 46 territories. More problematic, the pic fell to No. 2 in Australia and the U.K., and to No. 3 or lower in a number of other territories.

The good news: Absent the presence of a big hit, a number of smaller movies are finding plenty of love internationally, “Marley” among them.

Other beneficiaries are Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” which has become a sleeper hit overseas. “Gran Torino” placed No. 4 overall for the sesh, grossing $11.1 million from 2,700 playdates in 17 territories for a foreign cume of $47.3. “Torino” stayed No. 1 for the second weekend in a row in Spain, where Eastwood is a virtual hero, sliding just 21% for a Spanish cume of $5.7 million.

“I expect it will continue to show good legs,” one booker says.

“Torino” bowed No. 2 in Italy with $2.2 million from 318 playdates. It scored the Italo frame’s highest per-location average — $6,900.

In Asia, Fox Intl. made headlines with “Dragonball Evolution.” The film placed No. 5 overall at the international box office, grossing north of $10 million from 2,132 playdates in eight territories. The impressive launch could bode well for the film’s North American run. The pic opens April 8.

Although it wasn’t a huge hit in the U.S, Disney’s femme pic “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is holding up surprisingly well overseas, coming in No. 6 for the sesh. The film grossed an estimated $6.1 million from 2,200 runs in 24 territories for a foreign cume of $31.9 million. The pic has been a strong performer in the U.K., where it has cumed north of $10 million, and in Italy, where its cume is $5.3 million.

Another film making strong inroads is “The Reader,” which grossed $3.8 million for the sesh for an international cume of $27.7 million. It’s a sensation in German, where it topped the charts for the third straight week. “Reader” dropped 27% to $2.16 million for a cume of $11 million.

“‘The Reader’ is really resonating with viewers in Germany,” notes one local exhib. “Bernhard Schlink’s novel has a massive following here. It’s a story that deals with the country’s past in a very different way, and that has generated lots of curiosity. And the Oscar win hasn’t hurt.”

David Hayhurst in Paris, Emilio Mayorga in Madrid, Ed Meza in Berlin and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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