Sci-fi pic adds $48 million, 'Toy Story 3' passes $900 million

With few new day-and-date entries to tempt overseas auds in most major territories, Warner Bros.’ holdover giant “Inception” stayed on top during the Aug. 6-8 weekend, adding a sizable $47.8 million to its international haul of $251.2 million.

Launches included Disney dance pic “Step Up 3D,” the top newbie, posting $12.3 million from 11 territories on 1,606 screens. “Step Up,” distribbed overseas by Summit and Universal, came in fourth in the U.K., with $3.2 million, behind “Toy Story 3,” “Knight and Day” and “Inception.”

While auds in Blighty had the most new films to choose from last weekend, with “Knight” and “Step Up” both entering the market, it was Disney’s “Toy 3″ that claimed the top spot, showing no sign of running low on batteries in its third frame, down just 40% from the previous weekend for an added $7.7 million. The toon reached $78 million in the U.K. to become the market’s all-time highest-grossing animated pic. With four weeks of holiday playtime in the U.K. still to come, Disney expects “Toy 3″ to maintain its tight grip on the market.

Overall, foreign totals for “Toy 3″ stand at $503.1 million in 49 markets, and with worldwide figures at $900.6 million, the toon is poised to surpass “Shrek 2″ ($919.8 million) as the top-grossing toon of all time worldwide.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s “Knight” earned a total weekend take of $11.3 million, boosting its overseas cume to $127.8 million. Having been released in 69 territories so far, “Knight” added the U.K. to its roster, contributing $3.7 million on 431 screens. The film outranked “Inception,” which totaled $3.6 million in its fourth outing; it’s the longest overseas run in a major market for the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer.

“Inception” would be further into its run in other markets as well if not for last month’s World Cup. Instead, at the time, Warners bowed the pic in just nine territories, including the U.K., where the pic has cumed $39.2 million.

With soccer safely in the rear-view mirror, however, Warners mounted an aggressive rollout strategy, expanding “Inception” to 29 markets in its second weekend, including France, Japan and Australia. Last weekend, the pic added Spain and Brazil, where it tallied $4.5 million and $2 million, respectively.

Hoping avoid competition with films like “Inception,” Fox has mounted a slower rollout for “Knight and Day.” The Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer should see a nice boost when it expands to Japan and Italy in the coming weeks.

Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” will add a key bucket of territories this weekend, including Brazil, France, Japan and the U.K. Last weekend, the film grossed $5.9 million on 3,244 screens in 34 markets, and it has cumed a healthy $55.2 million.

Top markets Russia and Mexico have contributed more than a third of the pic’s total international take, with Russia grossing $13.1 million. Mexican totals for “Apprentice” reached $5.6 million through the weekend, surpassing “Inception’s” three-week performance by 15%.

Also playing well to overseas fanboys, Paramount’s 3D fantasy “The Last Airbender” has cumed an impressive $54.6 million from only 25 territories. In Spain, “Airbender” launched on 579 screens for a weekend total of $3 million, becoming only the fourth title in the territory this summer to open with more than $2.5 million.

With a logjam of 3D product internationally — “Toy Story 3″ and “Shrek” are still claiming 3D screens, and Universal’s “Despicable Me” is added to the mix in some territories — the performance of “Airbender” reps one of the summer’s biggest surprises, according to most B.O. observers.

The film has carved out a respectable $183.8 million at the worldwide box office. “Airbender” expands to seven markets this weekend, including Argentina and the U.K., where it will go head-to-head with “Toy 3.”

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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