'Sherlock,' 'Up in the Air' open well in several territories

While several films hit notable highs at the foreign B.O. over the Jan. 15-17 weekend, including “Sherlock Holmes” and “Up in the Air,” Twentieth Century Fox’s Avatar” continued to out-perform in most territories with boffo returns in Spain and Italy, where the pic opened to an all-time high of $15.2 million.

“Avatar” maintained its top spot with a haul of $129 million from 14,575 screens in 112 markets, slipping only 18% and pushing the pic’s foreign cume to $1.12 billion. As of Jan. 19, “Avatar’s” cume totaled $1.16 billion and remains second only to James Cameron’s other top foreign grosser, “Titanic,” with $1.2 billion.

Given “Avatar’s” monumental international showing, the pic should have no problem surpassing “Titanic” in the coming weeks, meaning Cameron could claim the top two foreign grossers.

Film opened in Italy on 910 screens, 410 of which are 3D equipped. Its bow was delayed to avoid competing with local comedies, which tend to dominate during the holidays.

Meanwhile, “Avatar” gained steam in Spain, slipping only 11% in its fifth frame, compared to last weekend’s 33% drop.

One Spanish exhib described the pic’s performance as “beyond the most upbeat predictions. Nobody would have dared forcast such a meager drop-off.”

Already Spain’s highest grosser with an overall haul of $69.2 million, “Avatar” totaled $6.5 million for the weekend.

Another notable holdover was China, where in its second frame “Avatar” became the territory’s highest-grossing film ever at $75.6 million, slipping a mere 13%. Pic grossed $17.9 million for the weekend.

It may be doing too well in China — the territory will pull “Avatar” from more than 1,600 2D screens, a common practice in that territory to make room for local fare during the Chinese New Year next month. Pic will give way for the state-backed biopic “Confucius,” toplining Hong Kong’s Chow Yun-fat, set to open this week. “Avatar” will continue to screen in 3D on some 900 screens.

“Avatar” stayed on top in both France and Germany as it entered its fifth frame with $11.6 million and $9.5 million, respectively.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes” also turned in impressive figures over the weekend to maintain hold of the No. 2 spot at the international B.O. Pic grossed $27 million from 5,577 locations in 56 markets for a foreign cume of $171.7 million.

The Brit pic, toplining Robert Downey, stayed strong in its fourth frame in the U.K., earning $30.5 million, followed by $27 million in Italy and $18.9 million in Australia.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” continued to perform well for Fox in repeat frames, placing No. 3 with $15.6 million for the weekend and a foreign cume of $159.8 million. Pic’s screens totaled 5,491 in 58 markets.

Toon held steady with German auds in its fourth frame, grossing $1.3 million, and saw a robust 21% uptick in the U.K. with $2.5 million. In France, “Alvin” dropped just 3% in its fourth frame to cume $10 million.

In the No. 4 spot was Warner’s Clint Eastwood biopic Invictus” about Nelson Mandela and a South African rugby team during the apartheid era. Pic opened in France to $6.3 million from 469 screens, which accounted for most of its $8.4 million total.

Invictus” marks the best French opening for an Eastwood film, which typically do well in Gaul, ranking 30% ahead of 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.”

Universal’s Meryl Streep starrer “It’s Complicated” held steady at No. 5, earning $9 million from 1,986 screens in 24 markets for a foreign cume of $36.4 million in its fourth weekend.

Paramount kicked off its international rollout last weekend of Jason Reitman’s George Clooney starrer “Up in the Air.” Pic grossed $5.7 million from 926 screens in ine territories, including the U.K. where it earned $2.1 million from 325 screens and Australia, grossing $1.6 million from 145.

Fox’s “Tooth Fairy,” which is set to bow Stateside this week, bowed early in several overseas territories. Kid pic starring Dwayne Johnson opened to $5.3 million from 1,089 screens in seven territories for a cume of $5.5 million.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, 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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