‘Dreamgirls’ banking on expansion

Holdovers 'Museum,' 'Happyness' hang on at multiplexes

Following its socko one-day start on Christmas, Paramount and DreamWorks’ bigscreen musical “Dreamgirls” will be up for a test this frame as the pic plays its first full weekend in 852 playdates.

Par also will send out, in limited release, the international hit “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”

Pic, which came to Par with its purchase of DreamWorks, has played to more than $95 million so far overseas, including almost $50 million in Germany. Adapted from Patrick Suskind’s bestseller, pic stars Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman and was helmed by Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run”).

Multiplexes will see precious little new studio fare this holiday weekend. But that means good news for a handful of holdovers gunning for further life at the B.O.

Last frame’s resounding No. 1, Fox’s “Night at the Museum,” should continue to spin the turnstiles: Pic has played to nearly $68 million to date after raking in $42.2 million over the extended Christmas frame.

Sony’s feel-good drama “The Pursuit of Happyness” also will look to march toward the $100 million mark. Pic, starring Will Smith as a homeless father, has so far played to $73.6 million since its Dec. 15 bow.

MGM’s “Rocky Balboa” will still be fighting in theaters after a solid launch last frame. Lion also will expand its horror holiday pic “Black Christmas,” to 1,544 engagements. (Pic has so far played to $6.2 million since its Christmas rollout.)

Limited release scene including “Perfume” will perk up significantly as specialty studios aim to roll out scads of product in time to qualify for Oscar consideration.

MGM alone is sending out five more pics in limited engagements, including “Arthur and the Invisibles,” “Factory Girl,” “Fast Track” and “Miss Potter” — all of which come from the Weinstein Co. — as well as the studio’s pickup “The Flying Scotsman.”

Also, Universal is rolling out “Children of Men” in select markets.

Picturehouse — the joint venture between New Line and HBO Films — will send out “Pan’s Labyrinth” in 17 engagements. Specialty arm decided to wait to roll out the pic to avoid the fall arthouse crush.

Fox Searchlight rolls with “Notes on a Scandal” in 22, while Warner Independent expands “The Painted Veil” into 37.

On the foreign front, “Museum” looks likely to dominate. Fox is expanding the laffer into 20-plus new markets, including Australia, Germany, Russia and the U.K., boosting the screen count to 4,700 to take advantage of what’s expected to be solid biz on the last weekend of the year.

The pic launched impressively last weekend in South Korea and has cumed $8.8 million in that market through Wednesday. It’s grossed $4.5 million in its first two days in the U.K., $3.9 million in its first three in Mexico and $1.1 million from previews in Germany, pushing the foreign total to $21 million and the worldwide to $88 million.

Fox also should see decent holdover biz for “Eragon,” which won the two previous foreign frames and had cumed $85 million overseas and $130 million worldwide through Wednesday. It has taken in $800,000 in Brazil since opening on Christmas Day.

Sony’s “Casino Royale” will continue to cash in, with foreign grosses at $319 million and worldwide at $466 million through Wednesday.

Other high-profile launches include “Babel” in Australia and Spain, “Charlotte’s Web” in Mexico and Russia, “Deja Vu” in Germany, “Happy Feet” in Australia and “The Holiday” in Australia and France.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)