Sony's 'Resident Evil' franchise past $500 mil worldwide

While the international box office saw a changing of the guard just below the top spot, the latest offering in Sony’s “Resident Evil” franchise, 3D pic “Afterlife,” scared up top coin at foreign wickets over the Oct. 1-3 weekend, raising up $15 million for an international cume of $182.9 million from 47 territories.

Top spot for “Afterlife” was Japan, where the fright fest improved 6% in its fourth frame to $3.1 million for a cume of $45.7 million. In Mexico, the film scored a chart-topping $1.2 million, down just 38% in its third week for a cume of $10 million.

“Afterlife” stands as “Resident Evil’s” highest-grossing installment, both domestically and abroad. Overall, the franchise has proved to be a highly lucrative asset for Sony, cuming north of $500 million worldwide for all four pics.

Meanwhile, Sony’s “Eat Pray Love” was among holdovers that expanded into major markets, knocking key titles like “Inception” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” down a peg. Julia Roberts’ starrer “Eat Pray” debuted at No. 1 in Brazil, where its $2 million take more than doubled debuts for “Erin Brockovich” and “America’s Sweethearts.” In Germany, “Eat Pray Love” added $2 million in its second course, down just 20%, lifting B.O. totals there to $6 million, second only to Japan’s $6.7 million. The pic’s weekend gross was $13.4 million for an international cume of $39.7 million.

Sony’s decision to hold the pic back from day-and-date release to avoid the crowded summer marketplace seems to have paid dividends. The studio also hoped to spark interest in markets like Italy and Spain based on auds’ affinity for star power. The film topped the Spanish B.O. with $1.2 million over the Oct. 1-3 weekend, boosted by Roberts’ appearance at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Pic was off a respectable 41% in Spain.

Meanwhile, Universal held summer toon “Despicable Me” for the fall, timing the film’s rollout to coincide with school holidays in Europe and Australia, adding $12.4 million from 43 territories to an international cume of $115.1 million as of Oct. 3. The toon expanded to seven additional markets, including Germany, where it beat “Eat Pray Love” with $5.5 million at 684 locations. Pic’s take in Germany occupied 32% of the country’s overall market share, outpacing Disney/Pixar toons “Up” and “Wall-E” by 5%.

“Despicable” held onto the top spot in Australia, posting $2.7 million in its fourth stanza for a cume of $16.5 million. Pic now stands as U’s highest-grossing 2010 release in Oz, ahead of “Robin Hood” ($15.9 million), and should continue to play well there, since roughly half the country is on vacation through Oct. 8. U will expand the toon to 20 additional markets over the next few months, starting with France and Spain over the Oct. 8-10 weekend.

Despite adding territories like France, Russia and Mexico to its international portfolio, 20th Century Fox’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” still fell behind “Eat Pray Love” and “Despicable Me” overall for the sesh. “Wall Street” took in $10.8 million for the week, with Gaul as the pic’s top market, contributing $2.1 million at 410 locations.

Warner Bros.’ heady summer holdover “Inception” also dropped in overall rank, scoring $8 million, though the film already has been playing in most major markets. China and the U.K. are the film’s top territories, with $54.7 million and $54.6 million, respectively, with the pic taking in a dreamy $503.1 million from 55 markets overall.

“Wall Street,” meanwhile, has posted $23.5 million in foreign B.O. receipts, and still has several major overseas markets to go, including Blighty and Spain over the Oct. 8-10 weekend.

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

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