Pic tops foreign B.O., with 'Fockers' a close second

Twentieth Century Fox’s 3D family pic “Gulliver’s Travels” proved hard to tie down over the New Year’s frame, earning top coin at the international box office with almost $25 million at 7,786 locations in 68 territories.

“Gulliver” bumped 2D laffer “Little Fockers” to second place, with the Robert De Niro-Ben Stiller comedy posting $24 million, even though it screened in 40 markets and nearly half the number of locations as “Gulliver.” “Fockers,” which Par is distribbing overseas, has cumed $74 million internationally so far.

In its second week internationally, “Gulliver’s” overseas haul reached $52 million as of Jan. 3, and added to a $27 million domestic take, pic’s worldwide gross is nearly $80 million.

With an estimated production budget of $112 million, “Gulliver” will have to extend its travels overseas to make up for added marketing costs, since domestic play is unlikely to provide the needed boost. Fox initially had higher hopes for the Jack Black starrer, though a crowded 3D domestic front — which includes Fox’s other 3D pic, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” — has limited its playability.

And while a staggered international release would have allow more room within the 3D format, Fox opted for an aggressive overseas expansion to capitalize on the year-end holidays.

“Gulliver” posted a sizable bow in the U.K., topping the market and earning $10.9 million, including previews, at 503 locations. In its soph sesh in Australia, the pic grossed $2.8 million at 404, finishing second in Oz, behind “Fockers.”

In France, the laff sequel was up 4% from its opening weekend, with $2.5 million and a local cume of $6.4 million. The film has received better-than-expected reviews in Gaul — a market typically unreceptive to American comedies. Pic has cumed a fine $16.7 million in the U.K., while German auds have shelled out $6 million.

“Fockers,” with Universal handling Stateside distribution, is expected to reached $300 million worldwide, according to U execs. To date, the franchise threepeat has tallied $181 million in global box office receipts — $107 million of that domestic.

U is reporting a $100 million pricetag for “Fockers,” though some insiders have cited the budget as high as $130 million. Regardless, “Fockers” is an expensive venture for U, especially with added costs to market the pic. Still, split interest with Par and Relativity Media should ease some of U’s financial burden.

Meanwhile, Fox’s first “Narnia” installment, “Dawn Treader,” continues to play well overseas, adding $21.5 million over the weekend to its $215 million international cume. The pic, which stands as Fox’s highest-grossing 2010 release internationally (but still behind “Avatar”), pulled in at nearly half the cost of Disney’s “Prince Caspian.” That pic ultimately grossed $425 million worldwide; “Dawn Treader” has tallied $303 million worldwide.

“Dawn Treader” has played best in France, where it cumed $23 million; pic’s next-best territory, Russia, has contributed slightly more than $18 million.

Pic saw a strong upswing in Gaul, improving by 25% in its fourth frame, with $4.4 million for the weekend. But both Germany and the U.K. had better upticks — 40% and 37%, respectively — largely due to softer B.O. the week before.

Also playing over the holiday frame was Disney’s 3D “Tron: Legacy,” which rang up a weekend take of $23.7 million, down a modest 26%. Pic’s international cume stands at $120.6 million, having been released in 40 markets — 70% of the international marketplace.

“Tron” bowed in South Korea, where it posted top coin over the weekend, with $3.2 million. Pic moves into Italy this week.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Clifford Coonan in Beijing, Andrew Horn in Berlin, David Hayhurst in Paris and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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