‘Alice,’ ‘Dragon’ frolic at kid-friendly overseas box office

'Nanny McPhee' sequel opens well in U.K.

For the second consecutive week, tyke tales ruled the international B.O., with Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” and Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s toon “How to Train Your Dragon” vying for the top spot over the March 26-28 weekend.

Added to the mix was Universal’s Blighty bow of the Emma Thompson-starring kid sequel “Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.”

Entering its fourth frame, “Alice” managed to reign over “Dragon,” which opened day-and-date on 5,280 screens in 35 territories, accounting for 62% of the international market. “Alice” grossed a weekend take of $51.3 million on 7,170 screens in 51 territories, for a cume of $383.8 million as of March 30.

Worldwide cume for the 3D fantasy reached an impressive $681.4 million.

Meanwhile, “Dragon” took in $31.2 million, raising its total overseas take to $42.3 million.

Both films saw sizable boosts from the 3D component, despite having to compete for limited 3D screens on the international front. “Alice” earned 80% of its total gross from 3D screens, while “Dragon” also gained from 3D opening dates in some markets.

In Germany, “Dragon” opened with $2.5 million on 799 screens, with 80% coming from 3D.

Though Germany’s “Dragon” opening was less than those of “Alice” and 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar,” the toon’s 3D dominance elsewhere continues to signal an insatiable appetite among overseas auds for 3D titles.

Other territories to shell out top 3D coin for “Dragon” were Australia and Spain. In Australia, 71% of the pic’s $2.4 million weekend cume on 354 screens came from 3D, while in Spain, “Dragon” earned a respectable $2.2 million on 575, with 3D accounting for 66% of the take.

“This is one opening that overshot the mark,” one Spanish exhib says.

Holdover market Russia dropped just 12% in its soph sesh, grossing $6.4 million. Most films typically drop 40% to 50%. Par launched the toon early in that territory to take advantage of school holidays. “Dragon” should benefit from a similar boost in most territories in which it’s opening, including the U.K. and France, on March 31.

Giant-screen exhib Imax generated a total $788,000 from 38 3D-equipped screens for “Dragon.” The exhib’s worldwide portion for the pic totals some $6.1 million.

“Dragon” will launch at 80 overseas Imax locations over the course of its six-week run.

“The 3D release of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is off to a great start and the strong opening weekend results demonstrate the global consumer desire to experience it in Imax 3D,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to continued success with Imax during the coming weeks.”

“Alice” launched last weekend in two key markets, China and France.

China reps a major 3D gain for “Alice,” as it ranks second to the U.S. for the pic, totaling some 1,100 3D-equipped locations. Chinese auds shelled out $9.6 million on a total 1,477 screens to become the all-time highest opening for a Disney film in that territory. Pic’s overall total in China reached $12.1 million.

France ranked as “Alice’s” top territory, bowing to $15 million on 735 screens. Cume for the 3D fantasy stands at $21.3 million as of March 30.

The territory’s high-end opening points to French auds’ endorsement of the film, as one major French newspaper writes, “(Tim Burton) has once again found the right distance between absolute creation and classicism.”

“Alice” has not yet launched in several sizable markets, with Spain and Japan skedded for April 16 and 17, respectively, and Brazil opening April 21.

U’s kid-friendly “Nanny” sequel enchanted U.K. auds last weekend, with $4 million on 510 screens, up 4% from the original “Nanny McPhee.” That film went on to cume $115.8 million worldwide in 2005.

“Big Bang,” about an unkempt magical nanny charged with training unruly children in England, will look to rule tykes this Easter in markets including Australia, Germany, South Africa and Spain.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Clifford Coonan in Beijing, Ed Meza in Berlin, Lauren Seligman in Paris, Leo Barraclough in London and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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