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‘Phantom’ conquers Alex

'Aviator' crashes while 'Baby' gets a second wind

In some intriguing faceoffs last weekend, “Alexander” invaded Japan, its last major market, but couldn’t catch the second stanza of “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera,” while “Ocean’s Twelve” launched in the U.K. behind the buoyant soph session of “Meet the Fockers.”

It was a downbeat frame in Germany and Australia but lively in France thanks to several Gallic productions, including “Espace detente” and “Danny the Dog.”

Those 11 Oscar noms aren’t propelling “The Aviator” as much as distribs might have expected, as the Howard Hughes biopic plunged in its second flights by 45% in Italy (where “Finding Neverland” exerted a magical pull on auds), 43% in France and 35% in Mexico.

Oscar mentions did provide some heft to “Million Dollar Baby” as it entered the ring in Spain, Australia and Greece, and to “Sideways.”

The champ overseas for the second consecutive weekend, “Fockers” generated an estimated $15.9 million from bows in eight territories and holdovers in 20, elevating cume to $82.8 million. The Universal/UIP comedy rang up $4.7 million on 356 in Spain, $415,000 in Sweden, $377,000 in Denmark, $352,000 on 22 in the Taiwan capital Taipei, and $275,000 in Israel; all eclipsed the openings of “Meet the Parents,” and the pic was No. 1 in each except Sweden.

Robert De Niro/Ben Stiller/Dustin Hoffman starrer fell by an acceptable 36% in the U.K., bagging $8.7 million, hoisting cume to $29.1 million.

“Ocean’s Twelve” made off with $6.4 million on 450 in Blighty (20% below “Ocean’s Eleven”) and a top-ranked $916,000 on 148 in Turkey, 9% ahead of the original in admissions. Heist caper collared $11.2 million overseas, spurring cume to $201.1 million.

“Finding Neverland” whistled up $2.1 million on 273 in Italy, 15% bigger than “Chicago.” Johnny Depp starrer has conjured up $26.1 million in just 15 markets.

“The Aviator” climbed to an estimated $46 million, including France’s $6.6 million, Italy’s $5.1 million and Mexico’s $2.6 million. Martin Scorsese’s epic has earned a strapping $12.3 million in the U.K. and through its third stanzas has trapped $7 million in Spain and $6.4 million in Germany, where it was No. 1, off just 20%.

Laffer “Espace detente” reigned in France, grabbing $4.5 million on 568 screens. “Danny the Dog” (aka “Unleashed”), an action-thriller toplining Jet Li and Morgan Freeman, fetched a sturdy $2.3 million on 480.

“Alexander” advanced to $120 million, helped by Japan’s $1.9 million on 261. Oliver Stone’s epic has captured a fine $14.5 million in Spain, $11.1 million in Italy and $10.6 million in France, but it’s been blah in Australia and the U.K.

Singin’ and swingin’

“Phantom of the Opera” drummed up $2.5 million in Japan, slipping by a mild 22%, boosting the total to a hearty $9.6 million. Tuner’s estimated cume hit $70 million after spirited perfs in the U.K. and South Korea and limp runs in continental Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia.

Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” took a tony $1.3 million on 201 in Spain, $896,000 on 105 in Australia, including sneaks, and $229,000 on 19 in Greece. Hilary Swank starrer has hammered out a fair $6.3 million in the U.K.

“Sideways” hit the road with a healthy per-screen average in Germany, minting $472,000 on 76. Fox’s comedy expanded from 72 to 88 prints in the U.K., bottling $1.9 million in 10 days, and improved by 1% in Oz, pocketing $1.4 million in 11 days on 59. Cume is $4.4 million in 18 markets.

An incredible $358.4 mil

Winding its tour, “The Incredibles” drew $1 million on 81 in Hong Kong, 60% bigger than “Shrek 2” but a fraction below the record entry of “Toy Story 2.” Cume hit $358.4 million.

“Closer” embraced $520,000 on 99 in South Korea and $224,000 on 55 in Russia, both OK considering neither market is hip to talky dramas. Mike Nichols-helmed pic has racked up $55.4 million in 33 markets, including the U.K.’s impressive $12.9 million and Australia’s $2.9 million; in Oz it clung to top spot in its second weekend, down 34%.

In its offshore preem, “Spanglish” took a decent $727,000 on 300 in Mexico, a sensible place to begin given the pic’s Mexican character played by Paz Vega.

“Racing Stripes” raced into the U.K. with a jaunty $2.1 million, on par with “Babe,” according to international distrib I.S., and garnered $196,000 on 63 in Belgium. Family pic has reined in a neat $6.1 million in Australia.

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