Foreign gross more than doubles domestic

With its settings almost entirely in Europe, “Angels and Demons” has wound up showing far greater traction among moviegoers outside the United States.

As of May 26, Sony’s “Angels” had cumed $208.9 million in foreign box office — making it the top international grosser of 2009, zooming past “Fast and Furious” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” — after less than two weeks in theaters.

The second frame of “Angels and Demons” managed to remain ruler of the international box office with $58.4 million at 10,610 playdates in 99 markets during the May 22-24 weekend. That handily topped the $49 million overseas opening for “Night at the Museum: The Battle of the Smithsonian” at 8,100 in 93 territories.

And most notably, the foreign gross for “Angels” is more than double the domestic total, which had hit $89.7 million as of May 26 — making it the 10th largest domestic grosser of 2009.

With that kind of solid foreign traction and no other adult dramas competing in June, Sony’s religious thriller should be able to power past $300 million by the end of its run. It’s on its way to becoming part of a small and eclectic grouping of films that have taken in well over 70% of their worldwide gross outside the United States.

That’s not really a big surprise, since “The Da Vinci Code” — the Dan Brown novel-based predecessor to “Angels and Demons,” which also starred Tom Hanks — is part of that same club, with international box office accounting for more than 71%, or $540 million, of its worldwide gross of $758 million.

The most recent titles to distinguish themselves as overperformers on the foreign front are a wide-ranging group: “Mamma Mia!” with $140 million domestic and $458 million international; “The Golden Compass” with $70 million domestic and $302 million international; “Ice Age: The Meltdown” with $195 million domestic and $465 million international; and “Casino Royale,” with $167 million and $427 million.

Germany’s led the “Angels” way with $23.6 million in its first two weeks, followed by the U.K. with $17.8 million, Japan with $17 million and Italy with $15 million.

Though it finished second to “Angels and Demons,” Fox’s “Night at the Museum” sequel didn’t disappoint in foreign markets — though it wound up trailing the domestic gross in its initial frame.

Fox execs note the “Museum 2″ offshore opening didn’t include Japan, South Korea, Mexico or China — four markets that grossed a combined $84.4 million for the original “Night at Museum” — better than a quarter of its final $323 million cume outside the United States.

“Museum 2″ probably won’t come near the original’s foreign total, although it faces family competition in most markets until “Ice Age 3″ launches day and date July 1. Disney’s opting to hold off on releasing “Up” in most foreign markets until later in the summer, limiting day and date launches during the May 29-31 frame to Russia and the Ukraine.

Paramount’s “Star Trek” and Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” have taken the lion’s share of foreign grosses so far during the summer season. “Trek” has hit $90 million overseas — by far the best international take for a “Trek” title — but less than half its domestic total.

As of May 26, “Wolverine” has put its claws on $160 million overseas, or $5 million short of the domestic total.

Local titles had a few crumbs left to sweep up — in France, Pedro Almodovar’s latest, “Broken Embraces,” had a boffo bow, earning Pathe release a tad better than $2 million on 288 after five days.

Dane helmer Niels Arden Oplev’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the first film based on cult novelist Stieg Larsson’s edgy crime Millenium trilogy, is a dark-horse winner for UGC, with a cume of more than $5.5 million on 554 in its second French frame.

In Spain, the season’s phenomenon is local laffer “Brain Drain.” Just 20% of “Brain’s” numbers have evaporated since it opened five frames ago, making it the biggest Spanish B.O. hit of the year, with a $7.6 million cume.

David Hayhurst in Paris and Emilio Mayorga in Madrid contributed to this report.

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