‘Expendables’ knocks off ‘Knight’

Worldwide auds also melt for 'Ice Age'; franchise passes $2 billion

It was a weekend of narrow victories and franchise milestones at the overseas box office.

Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 2,” which debuted to $24.7 million internationally over the Aug. 17-19 sesh, mustered just enough stamina to muscle past Warner Bros.’ stocky holdover “The Dark Knight Rises,” which grabbed $21.4 million in its fifth frame to bring its overseas cume to $488.6 million (better than the second Batpic’s $469.7 million in 2008).

Fox’s “Ice Age” franchise, meanwhile, became the highest-grossing toon series ever, crossing the $2 billion mark worldwide among all four films.

Overseas, the series’ latest installment — “Continental Drift,” at $649.4 million — surpassed “Toy Story 3” ($648.7 million) to become the second-biggest toon in international waters, behind only its “Ice Age” predecessor, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which cumed $690 million at foreign wickets in 2009.

Warner Intl. prexy of distribution Veronika Kwan Vandenberg calls the summer “robust,” though not up to the standard set by 2011.

“It certainly was not as strong as last summer, when ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Transformers’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ grossed more than $700 million each,” she says.

Blighty by far stands as the biggest overall territory for “Dark Knight Rises,” with $77.8 million. China, meanwhile, became “Drift’s” highest-grossing overseas market, with $61.3 million, just ahead of Germany ($57.8 million).

For the weekend, “Expendables 2” managed to score a beefy $7.9 million debut in Russia, 45% higher than the original. Mexico and the U.K. each contributed at around $3 million.

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