‘Ice’ still freezing out overseas rivals

'Meltdown' continues to drown out competish

Fox’s “Ice” was en fuego once again at the overseas wickets.

In fact, “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown” outpaced the studio’s original estimates, taking in $40.3 million over the most recent frame, rather than the $23 million Fox initially tallied.

Pic had a boffo bow in Italy while continuing to top the charts in holdover territories including France, Germany and Hong Kong.

“Ice” declined by only 33% in its third frame in release, and has now raked in more than $333 million internationally.

That takes the pic’s world tally to more than $500 million already.

But Buena Vista Intl.’s slasher spoof “Scary Movie 4” also made waves by going for a totally different demo.

One of the territories that had yet to see “Ice’s” sunny results was Italy.

The pic’s opening there, together with a solid bow from “Scary Movie 4,” bumped Italo B.O. by 43% over the previous frame.

With a E5.3 million ($6.6 million) opening, “Ice” was the second-best April opener ever in Italy, after “The Passion of the Christ” two years ago.

(“Scary” followed as the third-best April opener.)

Despite the boffo results, exhibs agreed that both pics are in line with expectations.

“We knew these films would do this well, and both of them have given us a big hand,” says one relieved exhib in Italy.

“Ice Age 2” put competitors on ice for the third straight frame in Germany. (It’s has grabbed $48.6 so far in German coin, adding $5.3 in its last frame there.)

Even so, “Scary Movie 4” still enjoyed a strong bow at No. 2, taking in more than $4.5 million.

“Ice” has already surpassed the original CG-animated pic in the franchise: It’s now poised to become one of the most successful animated pics of all time in Germany.

“Obviously audiences are in the mood for comedy and light-hearted material,” says one Teutonic booker. “It’s springtime. People are in good spirits and they want a good laugh.”

Few appeared to be in the mood for grittier fare, such as Warner Bros.’ crime pic “16 Blocks.”

As a result, German B.O. was down 31% from last week. The rest of the pics in the top 10 were holdovers.

“Ice” also held the No. 1 spot in France its third week, garnering 25% of the market share. Pic took first even though it saw a 39% drop for the week, as auds sought fresh fare.

As a result, French spy spoof “OSS 117” grabbed the No. 2 spot in its debut, grossing a tidy $5.3 million. Pic stars “Brice de Nice” fave Jean Dujardin. Thanks to the top two finishers, B.O. registered a 13% increase compared with the same period last year.

Continuing to disappoint in general around overseas markets, “V for Vendetta” took in $1.9 million in its first week on French soil.

And in Hong Kong, too, there was no post-Easter week change at the top, with “Ice” freezing out competish and even enlarging its lead. Pic’s numbers over its second four day-weekend were down only 15%, taking in HK$5.578 million ($742,000) for an 11-day cume of $1.56 mil.

Biggest gainer of the week in H.K. was “Nanny McPhee,” which dropped only 2% weekend-on-weekend to record $189,000, and climbed from fourth to second.

Hong Kong hero “Undercover Hidden Dragon” dropped 57% in its third week to take $186,000 and boost its 18-day cume to $990,000.

Top newcomer was “The Heavenly Kings,” a mockumentary about Daniel Wu’s band Alive, which debuted in seventh place with $90,000 in four days. Perf was noteworthy for having been achieved against a partial media blackout, sparked by the film’s admission that Wu and co. had duped the local press with false scoops.

Week in Hong Kong was also notable for having two Korean films in its top ten: “Daisy,” which attempts to bridge the gap between thriller and romantic comedy, and rural AIDS drama “You Are My Sunshine.”

“Daisy” slipped from third to fourth and shed a modest 28% for an 11-day cume of $360,000. The week’s other charting newcomer, “Sunshine,” shone more modestly, with $54,000 in four days for ninth slot.

“Ice” also ruled in Oz, where the pic is playing across ages, despite its PG rating. Only G movie on offer Down Under is “March of the Penguins.”

But “Ice” couldn’t hold its grip everywhere.

Blighty biz was down 27% from the previous frame, due to “Ice’s” nearly 50% third-week dropoff, and a lack of punchy openers.

The “Ice” melt was predictable, since Brit kids headed back to school after holidays, but exhibs remained delighted with the pic’s perf in Blighty, where it has cumed more than $44 million. Pic’s success is attributed to the popularity of the original on homevid, its appeal to adults and a top campaign from Fox.

Meantime, Pathe’s horror title “Silent Hill” met U.K. expectations.

Although bookers report word of mouth as poor, the bigscreen vidgame adaptation did solid biz in its opening weekend. Exhibs feared U.K. auds’ “horror fatigue” might dent the pic’s biz, but it managed to reel in fans of the vidgame. Recent horror titles, including “American Haunting” and “The Dark,” have flopped in the U.K.

Another Hollywood import, “American Dreamz” opened poorly for UIP. Despite the presence of Brit fave Hugh Grant, the pic failed to make much of an impression, and exhibs felt it suffered because Grant did little promo work.

BVI’s opener “Eight Below” also failed to make a mark, despite its status as a hit in the U.S. and other key foreign territories. Bookers felt that a non-holiday release date did the pic few favors.

And Fox’s “Tristan + Isolde” also flopped, posting the worst per-screen average of any pic in the Blighty top 10.

Sheri Jennings in Italy, Archie Thomas in the U.K., Liza Klaussmann in France, Esther De Prado in Spain, Ed Meza in Germany and Michaela Boland in Australia contributed to this report.

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