H'wood holdovers continue to dominate

Two of Hollywood’s hefty summer holdovers, “Inception” and “The Last Airbender,” continued to dominate the international roost, but several local productions delivered a considerable punch during the fall sesh’s first weekend in major overseas markets.

Paramount’s Australian title “Tomorrow, When the War Began” rolled out Sept. 2 in Oz, debuting there in the top spot with $3.7 million, enough to make it the third-highest opening ever for an Australian production. New Zealand auds also embraced “Tomorrow,” with a chart-topping estimated take of $271,000 at 53 locations. Overall, the pic bowed to an impressive $3.8 million on 282.

Based on the first of seven books in author John Marsden’s young adult series, “Tomorrow” tells the heroic story of a group of Australian teenagers who, after returning from a camping trip, team up to fight an invading power. Helmed by Stuart Beattie, the pic’s cast includes Oz native Caitlin Stasey.

Inferno Entertainment will handle international distrib rights for “Tomorrow,” with hopes of enticing potential buyers at the Toronto Film Fest.

The film’s holdover potential in Oz may be threatened next weekend when Universal widens its 3D toon “Despicable Me,” timed to benefit from younger auds on school vacation. “Despicable” already has earned $1.4 million in the territory from sneaks at 353 locations.

U plans to roll out the toon in 34 additional territories, including most of Europe, throughout the next few months, looking to add considerable coin to the pic’s $73.9 million international gross to date.

The Japanese B.O. also saw a notable perf from local title “Beck,” which bowed in the No. 1 spot in the territory with $3.7 million at 230 locations. The live-action pic, about the rise of a neighborhood rock band, is based on a best-selling comic, with Japanese company Shochiku distribbing.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox unspooled its Spanish-Brazil co-production “Lope,” posting a less-than-stellar $910,374 at 309 Spanish locations for a per-screen average of $2,946. Pic is helmed by Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington (“House of Sands”) and tells the real-life story of Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, played by Alberto Ammann.

Launching in the No. 3 spot at the Spanish B.O., bow marks a slight disappointment for the film, as some local pundits expected “Lope” to outstrip Spain’s top homegrown debut this year, “Death to Ugly People.” That film launched in April with a three-day tally of $1.8 million.

Among the weekend’s top holdovers, Warner Bros.’ “Inception” fared best, adding a stellar $24.4 million in its eighth week. “Inception” has totaled $418.9 million internationally.

In China, Warner’s mind-bending tentpole bowed with an outstanding five-day opening of $13.6 million at 3,300 locations, of which 16 were Imax. The giant-screen exhib contributed $952,462 of “Inception’s” weekend take for a whopping per-screen average of $60,000.

Pic’s debut now stands as the fourth-highest opening for a foreign film in that territory, behind “Avatar” (seven-day opening) and the two “Transformers” pics (five-day). “Inception’s” Imax run beat out previous record-setter “Aftershock,” which averaged $53,000 per-screen this year in China.

Last weekend, Par’s “The Last Airbender” managed to bump “Inception” from the top spot at foreign wickets, but with few territories opening, the 3D tentpole fell in overseas ranking. Still, “Airbender” has tallied a resilient $139.6 million from 42 territories.

Pic earned most of its weekend tally ($9.4 million) from holdover territories like Mexico and Germany, in its second and third frame, respectively. The film’s only opening territory was Poland, which contributed $451,000 at 92 locations.

In Mexico, “Airbender” dropped a respectable 43% for a take of $2.3 million, while German auds shelled out $1.2 million, down 52%. Pic’s cume in Mexico reached $8.6 million; German totals stand at $11.4 million.

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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