‘Smurfs’ retains top spot overseas

Sony's family film grosses $35.2 million at the foreign box office

With no new major day-and-date releases over the Aug. 19-21 weekend, Sony’s mighty blue crew, “The Smurfs,” managed to stay atop the overseas B.O., grossing $35.2 million in the pic’s fourth frame to record its second consecutive winning weekend.

With an international cume of $211.5 million, the pic’s overseas tally far surpasses 2007’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” which grossed $143 million overseas.

“The Smurfs” held on to the No. 1 spot in eight territories, including China and Brazil, but fell in markets like the U.K. and Russia, where new entries — and one local film — dominated. In Blighty, teen laffer “The Inbetweeners Movie,” a spinoff from the popular sitcom, became the country’s biggest opening weekend ever for a local indie comedy, scoring $21.8 million from 455 screens. That beat previous best Brit comedy, “Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason,” which opened with $17.2 million in 2004.

Russian auds shelled out top coin for another 3D pic — although far less family-friendly than “Smurfs” — “Conan the Barbarian,” which debuted to $5.2 million. “Smurfs” fell 46% in Russia, in large part because of the $2.8 million local bow of 3D kidpic “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.”

Of the No. 1 markets for “Smurfs,” China and Brazil contributed $6 million and $4 million, respectively. In two weeks, China, with a total $30 million, became the top territory for the pic. After three weeks, “Smurfs” has cumed $22.2 million in Brazil.

The success of “Smurfs” in China can be attributed mainly to 3D, though Sony also spent considerable marketing coin to promote “Smurfs” in the territory.

For instance, the studio released several Chinese teaser posters meant to mirror the film’s Stateside art — but with Chinese landmarks instead of those in New York City. One poster features the little blue guys standing in front of the Great Wall. It’s no surprise that Sony heavily pushed “Smurfs” in China, especially considering how 3D has affected the film’s perf. (The film is playing exclusively in 3D in China.)

Another Hollywood holdover performing well, 20th Century Fox’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” took in $29.8 million in its third week overseas.

“Apes,” which has cumed $124 million overseas through Aug. 21, is on track to surpass Fox’s earlier summer franchise reboot, “X-Men: First Class,” which cumed more than $207 million overseas. That’s a considerable surprise, since both films got positive word-of-mouth and “X-Men” — a newer property — played during the heat of summer.

Currently, Blighty is the top market for “Apes,” with a cume of $19.1 million, followed by France and Spain, contributing a total $15.9 million and $14.7 million, respectively.

“Apes” still has major Asian markets in which to play — notably, China and Japan. Signaling a strong start in Asia, the film bowed last weekend in South Korea, earning top coin, with $7 million on 522 screens, making it Fox’s third-best bow there ever.

Down Under, Roadshow Films’ real-life story “Red Dog” reached a total $8 million in three weeks at the Australian B.O., making it Oz’s highest-grossing pic this year.

Based on Louis de Bernieres’ bestselling tome about a loyal dog searching the Australian Outback for its owner, the pic opened Aug. 4 to $1.8 million — 2011’s biggest bow for a local pic in Oz — then grew 4% in its second outing to claim $1.87 million.

This past weekend, “Red Dog” took in $2.3 million, beating out the debuts of “Cowboys & Aliens” ($2.1 million) and “Conan the Barbarian” ($645,000), but the film lost to top title, “Friends With Benefits,” which bowed with $2.6 million.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Ed Meza in Berlin, David Hayhurst in Paris, Nick Vivarelli in Rome and Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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