Oscar bounce for ‘Slumdog’ overseas

Fox Searchlight film rakes in another $15 million

The Oscar boost showed oomph at the international box office over the Feb. 27-March 1 frame as multiple Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire” shot to the top of the chart, grossing at least $15 million for a foreign cume of roughly $214 million.

Initially, it looked like Warner Bros.’ “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” had won the session to remain at $14 million. But with various international distribs, “Slumdog’s” numbers come in more slowly than studio pics.

“Slumdog” was No. 1 in the U.K., Spain, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Mexico, and No. 2 in a handful of other territories.

Top-grossing territory is helmer Danny Boyle’s native Blighty, where “Slumdog” has earned north of $68 million in eight weeks.

After three frames in theaters, “Slumdog Millionaire” finally took the B.O. laurels in Spain. Local distrib Filmax widened its release on the back of Oscar nods from an initial 177 prints three weeks ago to 260 Feb. 27.

“We expect the Oscar wins to turn the pic into a real sleeper hit,” said an exhibitor in Spain.

In Italy, “Slumdog” surged 556% as distrib Lucky Red more than doubled the prints of the pic, from 63 to 159. Pic grossed $885,000, bringing the Italo cume to $5.4 million.

Other Oscar-nominated pics also benefited from all the press surrounding the Feb. 22 Oscarcast.

“Button” may have lost to “Slumdog” in the best picture race, but it continued its dazzling foreign run, growing its cume to $177 million. Worldwide total is north of $293 million.

In Italy “Button” showed strong staying power. Brad Pitt starrer slid a mere 39% in its third frame drawing $1.75 million off 451 in the No. 2 spot via Warner Bros. “Button” has sewn up a tidy $11.2 million Italo cume to date.

“The Reader,” for which Kate Winslet won the lead actress Oscar, also saw narrow declines.

In Gaul, “Reader” shot to the top of the charts, boosted by Winslet’s win and the pic’s glitzy premiere at last month’s Berlinale.

In Germany, the postwar drama garnered $3.3 million from 359 — the best showing for distrib Senator Film since 2003’s box office hit “The Miracle of Bern.”

Senator topper Helge Sasse said the pic validated “the company’s new strategy of thinking globally but acting locally: It is a film that combines the risks and rewards of major international productions with the appeal and advantages of local German films — using a predominantly local cast and locations.”

Film, also starring popular young thesp David Kross, has received rave reviews in Germany. Newspaper Bild said, “This wonderful romantic drama with the phenomenal Kate Winslet goes straight to the heart and moves you to tears,” while Munich’s Abendzeitung described it as “sensitive, delicate” and faithful to the bestseller by Bernhard Schlink on which it’s based.

“Reader” keeps surprising Spanish bookers and auds, declining just 13% in its third frame. Pic placed No. 4 for the sesh for a cume of $3.5 million. Pic dropped a mere 3% in Italy to $664,000 via 01 Distribuzione.

Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” was shut out of the Oscar race entirely, but that didn’t stop its winning early run overseas. Pic placed No. 2 for the weekend, grossing $10.1 million for a foreign cume of $19.1 million.

“Torino” proved that Gaul’s love affair with Eastwood continues after four decades. It opened to a tidy $5.4 million on 422 for Warner Bros. in its first five days.

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

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