Overseas audiences up for comedy

'Marley' tops international box office

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Marley and Me” is anything but a dog overseas.

Defying the theory that American comedies don’t always travel so well, “Marley” placed No. 1 at the international box office over the weekend.

“Marley and Me” is among a crop of femme comedies that are enjoying big business overseas, even bigger than their domestic runs in some cases. For years, broad male comedies rang up the most coin abroad, but that’s changing.

For the frame, “Marley and Me” grossed $14.2 million from 2,800 playdates in 34 territories for a foreign cume of $49.3 million.

That was good enough to beat heavyweight titles “Watchmen” ($13.1 million), “Slumdog Millionaire” ($12.7 million) and “Gran Torino” ($11.1 million) for the weekend.

Among the femme-centric titles making a go of it, Disney’s Isla Fisher starrer “Confessions of a Shopaholic” has earned $31.9 million at the foreign box office and $41.3 million domestically. Pic is still early in its run overseas.

Fox’s “Bride Wars,” toplined by Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, has earned $52.4 million overseas, not that far behind its domestic cume of $58.1 million.

One international distribution exec notes that contempo femme movies –think “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “The Devil Wears Prada” — tend to revolve around universal themes. The original “Bridget Jones” grossed a whopping $210 million overseas and $71.5 million domestically.

Both also had the advantage of being based on bestselling books, as is “Shopaholic.”

B.O. watchers were shocked when the Meryl Streep-Amanda Seyfried musical “Mamma Mia!” grossed $457.5 million at the foreign B.O. That compares with a domestic gross of $144.1 million.

Star power also has a lot to do with it. “Marley’s” strength is largely attributed to the popularity of Jennifer Aniston and her pairing with Owen Wilson.

“They are believable as a couple. Throw in the dog, and it makes it a movie that people want to see,” said one international distribution exec.

“Marley and Me” was the surprise hit of the Christmas season at the domestic box office. North American cume is $142.6 million, bringing pic’s worldwide cume to $191.2 million, within shouting distance of the $200 million mark.

Over the weekend, “Marley” opened in nine new markets, including the U.K. Comedy soared to the top of the chart in Blighty, grossing $6.3 million — well ahead of the $1.9 million earned by “Watchmen” in its second weekend. “Marley” also opened No. 1 in Russia ($1.7 million).

There’s plenty of evidence to show that Aniston is popular overseas. “The Break-Up” grossed $86.3 million abroad and $118.7 million domestically. “Along Came Polly” and “Rumor Has It” did virtually the same amount of business internationally as they did domestically.

Outside the U.S., “Marley and Me” has done the most business in Australia ($10 million). It’s also been a big hit in Brazil, earning $6.2 million to date. It’s been No. 1 in Germany for several weeks running.

“Bride Wars” also has done its biggest business in Australia, cuming $3.1 million there. “Shopaholic” has also down well in Oz, Fisher’s native country, but has also struck a nerve in Italy, where its running cume is $5.3 million.

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