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Toon tops o’seas

'Meltdown' gets biz flowing at overseas B.O.

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” sizzled overseas with $93 million at 8,216 playdates in 45 markets.

Underlining the powerful worldwide appetite for CG toons, sequel generated the most heat at the foreign box office since the second weekend of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” grossed $95.4 million in late November.

The strong performance of “Meltdown” in every foreign market portends well for upcoming animated fare such as “Cars,” “Over the Hedge” and “The Wild.”

“Meltdown” nearly doubled its offshore take from its opening weekend, thanks mostly to impressive launches in Germany with $17 million at 1,061, the U.K. with $16.9 million at 502 and France with $12.5 million at 858. The German debut (including previews) represented a stunning 71% of the market and set records as Fox’s biggest opening and best launch for a toon. The Blighty launch (also including previews) and the French opening marked the second best animated debuts in those markets.

“Meltdown” has already cumed $156 million overseas and $272 million worldwide. With many markets amid spring holidays and with openings still to come for Italy, Japan and South Korea, the sequel’s poised to far surpass the original “Ice Age,” which grossed $176 million overseas and $382 million worldwide.

“Meltdown” opened impressively in Australia with $3.8 million at 388 and set records for top toon launches in Austria with $2.9 million at 120, Switzerland with $2.8 million at 136, Norway with $2.02 million at 125 and Denmark with $1.5 million at 93.

Holdover biz stayed solid, led by Russia with $5.1 million at 459, down 40%; Mexico with $4.9 million at 1,112, off 44%; and Spain, down 28% to $4.6 million at 450. Latin American traction manifested itself with records set for best second frame in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. Brazilian biz edged down only 4% to $3.7 million at 565 for a cume of $9 million.

Fox Intl., which staggered openings to maximize benefits from holidays in individual markets, noted Sunday that “Meltdown” would have grossed $114.9 million had it opened all 45 markets together. That would have been the best foreign opening since the distrib launched “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” in May with $144.7 million in its first five days.

“Meltdown” has provided the foreign box office a badly needed jolt after several months of lagging performance that saw the best biz come from BVI’s 2005 holdover “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Overall international biz for the weekend towered over the year-earlier frame, which was led by “The Ring Two” with $14.8 million.

Rivals have mostly avoided launching new pics in foreign markets against “Meltdown,” except for opening “Basic Instinct 2” during the previous frame. BVI hopes to take advantage of the fertile family market next weekend by debuting CG toon “The Wild” in two dozen foreign markets day-and-date with its Stateside launch.

Among counterprogrammers, UIP’s “Inside Man” generated the best performance with $8.1 million at 2,100 engagements in 32 territories to lift foreign cume to $35 million. Top numbers came from a No. 1 launch in Italy, with $1.8 million at 275, and second place in the U.K., with $1.4 million at 334 in its third frame.

Warner’s “V for Vendetta” maintained its moderate overseas run with $5.05 million from 2,000 prints in 41 markets, led by a second-place Spanish launch of $1.5 million at 303 and an Australian soph sesh of $690,000 at 202. Cume is $32.1 million overseas, $94 million worldwide.

Intermedia/C2’s “Basic Instinct 2” showed only modest staying power as it declined 43% to $5.8 million at 3,452 screens in about 40 markets. Foreign distribution has been split among the majors.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” remained a significant performer with $3.1 million at 1,291 sites in a dozen markets, most of it from $2.8 million in its sixth Japanese frame, lifting foreign cume to $442.7 million and worldwide take to $734 million.

UIP’s “Failure to Launch” took in a moderate $3 million at 1,445 locations in 20 territories, led by a U.K. soph sesh of $820,000 at 353.

Warner’s “Firewall” stayed tepid with $2.6 million from 1,990 prints in 21 territories for a foreign cume of $22.5 million.

UIP’s “Nanny McPhee” took in $1.6 million at 1,000 in 36 markets as it launched in fourth in Mexico, fifth in Spain and seventh in Italy.

Four other pics notched $1.5 million — tuner “The Producers” with a Japanese opening at 250; BVI’s “Eight Below” at 1,313 in nine markets, including a No. 1 launch in Taiwan with $310,000 at 17; Sony’s “Yours, Mine and Ours” at 960, including a Mexican opening of $860,000 at 326; and “Brokeback Mountain” to lift foreign cume to $89.25 million — $6 million ahead of its Stateside total.

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