Int'l business strong despite soccer tourney

Hollywood braced itself for a considerable dry spell this summer at the international box office, but as the World Cup soccer tourney nears the end on July 11, some B.O. observers suggest the dropoff was not as extreme as had been anticipated.

A crop of standout holdovers led by “Iron Man 2,” and a few limited day and date summer rollouts like “Toy Story 3,” have propped up the foreign box office during the worldwide sporting event.

Paramount launched “Iron Man 2″ more than a week before its May 7 Stateside bow, essentially kicking off the summer season. With hopes of gaining steam before the World Cup, the comicbook sequel has amassed a boffo $303 million in overseas ticket sales, repping the highest-grossing summer release internationally.

While pics such as “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” have helped the year to date box office hit $8.5 billion, up from last year’s approximately $7 billion during the same frame, business did fall during the World Cup period. Overall international B.O. from June 11 to Monday was down 35% over the same period last year.

Another title aimed at beating the pitches was Universal’s epic tale “Robin Hood,” which has earned $198.7 million since bowing May 12, nearly double its U.S. take. The Ridley Scott-helmed pic debuted day and date with the U.S. in more than 10,000 engagements worldwide, while last weekend added $2.4 million to its overseas tally.

“There are some movies that seem to be World Cup-proof, but that’s not to say the numbers couldn’t have been better,” said one studio distrib exec.

With few new entries crowding the frame in June, and delayed rollouts for recent titles like “Knight and Day” and “Toy 3,” most overseas auds who opted for the plexes fueled pics that were in repeat frames.

Warner Bros.’s femme romp “Sex and the City 2″ debuted overseas two weeks before the World Cup start and has since cumed $171.6 million, of which approximately 36% was earned after June 11. Disney bowed overseas “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” a week before “Sex 2,” with “Prince” cuming a royal $225.6 million. Disney’s holdover title grossed $38 million during the World Cup timeframe.

Still, 3D toon “Toy 3″ stands as the most resilient pic during the tourney, having earned $108.7 million since its launch on June 18.

Latin America — a mainstay region for the World Cup — contributed a stellar $62.2 million for the toon. In Mexico, “Toy 3″ currently stands as the second-highest grossing animated pic ever with $34 million. The toon’s perf there is especially impressive given that the country’s soccer team faced off with Argentina on June 27.

Most B.O. observers suggest the World Cup has most impact on adult-driven films in countries not yet eliminated from the tourney.

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Knight and Day,” which launched last weekend in 12 markets, earned solid results in non-World Cup countries South Korea and Russia. The Tom Cruise pic earned $12.5 million overeas, with South Korea contributing $3.6 million and Russia, $3.3 million.

Meanwhile, Fox’s “The A-Team” has struggled to gain traction during the past month, having cumed $47.1 million in 55 international markets. Australia stands as the pic’s highest-grossing territory, with $7.1 million in its third frame; while World Cup-centric countries like Mexico and Italy have seen lower turnouts, both posting $2 million.repping the highest-grossing summer release internationally.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more