‘Samurai’ cruises past $200 mil o’seas

'Nemo' is first toon to gross half a billion overseas

Folks overseas clearly are more enamored of watching Tom Cruise in Japanese armor than those at home as “The Last Samurai’s” estimated foreign cume through Sunday rocketed to $205.3 million, around $100 million more than domestic.

Adding further oomph to a lively frame, “The Lord of the Rings” finale captivated Italians; “Scary Movie 3” thrilled the Brits; “Mona Lisa Smile” ruled in German-speaking territories; and there were encouraging foreign preems for “Along Came Polly” and “Big Fish.”

Chalk up another milestone for “Finding Nemo,” which cruised to $502.2 million, ranking as the first animated film in history to notch half a billion bucks overseas. Toon ascended to $91.5 million in Japan, where it will soon become BVI’s second blockbuster to surpass $100 million, after “Armageddon.”

‘Samurai’ bows boffo

“Last Samurai” minted an estimated $30.5 million from 5,394 screens in 39 territories, boosted by feisty debuts in Sweden ($643,000 on 88 screens), Norway ($428,000 on 50), the Philippines ($459,000 on 111, including sneaks) and Argentina ($278,000 on 62).

Director Edward Zwick’s epic retained top spot in its eighth sojourn in Japan, commanding roughly $3.1 million (down 18%), upping the territory total to $90.8 million. Sturdy holdover biz saw “Samurai” rake in $18.4 million in Europe, spurring the region’s cume to $86.3 million, while the Asia/Pacific region excluding Japan generated $18.7 million and Latin America has ponied up $9.5 million.

Through its soph sessions the warrior saga has captured $9.1 million in France (easing by 29%), $5 million in Oz, $4.3 million in Mexico and $2.4 million in Brazil.

Tolkien of affection

“The Return of the King” conjured up an estimated $14.5 million in four days from around 900 locations in Italy, trouncing the four-day bow of “The Two Towers” (which launched on a Wednesday) by 45%.

New Line Intl. projected “King’s” weekend haul at $28.3 million, driving cume to $540 million, tracking 25% ahead of its predecessor. Last week the distrib reported the finale had outgrossed “Towers” in 37 of the 54 territories in which it’s played, including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain and Sweden. Its stellar scores include the U.K.’s $94.6 million, Germany’s $81 million, France’s $47 million, Spain’s $37 million, Oz’s $29.9 million, Korea’s $27.2 million and Sweden’s $21 million.

“Scary Movie 3” rustled up $6.7 million in Blighty, 20% bigger than the combined opening weekends of the first two editions in dollars and just 10% below in local currency.

Teutons crack ‘Smile’

“Mona Lisa Smile” drew $2.8 million on 601 in Germany, $550,000 on 85 in Switzerland and $335,000 on 78 in Austria. Julia Roberts starrer bowed in second spot in France ($1.8 million on 394) and Brazil ($465,000 on 154) and third in Holland ($305,000 on 59). Sony/Revolution pic fetched roughly $8.6 million in 22 markets, elevating cume to $24.5 million.

“Along Came Polly” was No. 1 in Australia, wooing $1.9 million from 193 locations.

“Big Fish” hooked approximately $236,000 on 18 screens in its London platform, posting a screen average just 6% less than that of “A Beautiful Mind” when it platformed in the capital. Tim Burton-helmed pic had paid previews on 280 screens throughout the U.K. Sunday night ahead of its nationwide preem this Thursday.

“The Haunted Mansion” spooked Germany to the tune of $1.9 million, bigger than “Daddy Day Care” and “George of the Jungle.”

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