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‘Protocol’ perky in o’seas bow

Overseas box office continues to run at a steady pace

While Stateside B.O. can’t seem to find its footing this holiday season, overseas box office continues to run at a steady pace, furthered this weekend by a solid $68.2 million performance from Paramount’s fourth “Mission: Impossible” film, “Ghost Protocol.”

The Tom Cruise-actioner bowed a week before its domestic launch in 36 international territories (representing 70% of the overseas marketplace), including top performer South Korea, which contributed $11.1 million for the weekend. That’s in line with the local launch of “Iron Man 2,” but a commanding 35% ahead locally of Par’s third “Mission: Impossible.”

In second place for “Ghost Protocol,” Japanese B.O. returned an estimated $9 million, also better than “Iron Man 2” and “Mission: Impossible III.”

“The filmmaking team has provided us with an exceptionally playing film that moviegoers around the world are embracing,” said Par Intl. prexy Anthony Marcoly. “With two and a half weeks of school holidays still to come, we are positioned extremely well as the must-see event over the Christmas season.”

Other top-notch debut territories for “Ghost Protocol” included Russia ($6.1 million), France ($5.2 million) and the United Arab Emirates, where the film scored the territory’s biggest opening of all time at $2.4 million.

Also boosting international ticket sales, Par-DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots” collected an estimated $30.4 million in its eighth frame, bringing the toon’s overseas kitty to $188.2 million.

Last weekend, “Puss” added 17 markets, with Italy ($3.3 million) as the only major opening for the film this weekend. Top holdover market, Germany, collected $4.9 million for “Puss,” which repped a soph-sesh drop of just 24%. In France, “Puss” grossed $3.7 million, down 29%; Brazil trailed with a weekend gross of $3.3 million.

Top-ranking Stateside pair, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” followed in overseas standing.

“Sherlock,” which Warners debuted in six markets, the largest-contributors being the U.K. and Italy, posted a total $14.65 million through Sunday, while “Alvin” collected $14.5 million from 38 territories. (Of those, however, only six, such as Blighty, Mexico and Spain, fall within the top 16 territories.)

Fox broadens “Alvin” next weekend to France and Germany; “Sherlock” adds Germany and South Korea.

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