'Slumdog Millionaire' leads resurgance

Theater traffic at the U.K. box office went from good to great over the Jan. 9-11 weekend, fueled by the openings of Danny Boyle’s Golden Globes champ “Slumdog Millionaire” and Kate Hudson-Anne Hathaway comedy “Bride Wars.”

Also helping drive business to theaters in Blighty were Universal’s “Role Models” and Paramount’s Holocaust drama “Defiance.”

Elsewhere in Europe, B.O. saw solid if unspectacular business. Highlights include top spot opening bows for “Transporter 3″ in Germany, Twilight in France and “Seven Pounds” in Italy. Baz Luhrmann’s historical epic “Australia” held top spot in Spain for the third consecutive weekend.

Coming in No. 1 overall at the international B.O. for the frame was DreamWorks Animation/Paramount blockbuster toon “Madgascar: Escape 2 Africa,” which grossed $14.8 million from 6,406 playdates for a cume of $366.6 million in its 11th week. Worldwide total is $544.1 million.

After that, it was a relatively tight race between Sony’s Will Smith drama “Seven Pounds” ($13.2 million), Warner Bros. Jim Carrey comedy “Yes Man” ($12.8 million), 20th Century Fox’s epic “Australia” ($12.3 million) and Summit Entertainment’s teen vampire romancer “Twilight” ($12. million).

It was a banner weekend for the Fox empire, between “Slumdog,” “Bride Wars,” “Australia” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Both “Australia” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” have done significantly more business abroad than at the domestic box office. “Australia’s” foreign cume through Jan. 11 was $103.3 million, compared to a domestic haul of $47.8 million.

“Earth Stood Still” has earned $140.1 million overseas, and $77.3 million domestically.

In the U.K., “Slumdog” opened big but could not beat out “Role Models” for top spot.

Overall, it was another big frame at the Blighty box office with five films exceeding $1.48 million. Cold weather and hot films powered booming biz.

“Slumdog” took in $2.7 million at 324 screens for a screen average of $8,369, and expectations. A London-based booker attributed the success to “a perfectly timed release” and “the groundswell of positive publicity it has received since it closed the London Film Festival.”

Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd starrer “Role Models” topped the charts with a boffo bow of $3.5 million at 353 via Universal. The crass Yank laffer clicked well with young multiplex males, also scoring the frame’s best screen average: $9,804.

Female-skewed comedy “Bride Wars” placed third with $2.5 million at 410 for Fox. Fourth spot also went to a newbie — Daniel Craig starrer “Defiance” – which bagged $1.8 million at 326 for Momentum.

The flood of successful new pics squeezed the holdovers, but Kate Winslet/Ralph Fiennes starrer “The Reader” showed excellent traction. The drama about post-WWII Germany dipped just 14% in its soph sesh to push the running cume to $2.5 million after 10 days.

In Germany, “Transporter 3″ easily dispatched Smith’s “Seven Pounds” as crowds rushed to see the latest installment in the high-octane action series starring Jason Statham. Universum release soared to the top of the charts, raking in $5 million from 478 — quadruple the opening weekend gross of its 2005 predecessor, “Transporter 2.”

“Seven Pounds” had a much better story to tell in Italy, where it easily landed at No. 1, boosted by the popularity of local helmer Gabriele Muccino. It bowed at a muscular $5.2 million off 553 via Sony for a stellar $9,300 per screen take.

In Spain, Fox’s “Australia” held top spot for the third weekend on the trot. This frame, it amassed $1.5 million toward a running cume of $11.3 million.

“Defiance” was the strongest opener, scooping $1.3 million on 281.

Making its first outing at the foreign box office was Sean Penn starrer “Milk,” which took in $449,348 at the Spanish B.O. . The Universal release scored the third best playdate average of the weekend — $3,928.

In France, “Twilight” replicated its success elsewhere with a attention-grabbing $5.6 million from 455 in its first five days for SND. Steven Soderbergh’s “Che: Part One” earned Warners $1.6 million on 380 in its first five days.

David Hayhurst in France, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Dave McNary in Los Angeles, Ed Meza in Germany and Nick Vivarelli in Italy contributed to this report.

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