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Italy opening propels ‘Pirates’ back to top

Pic grabbed another $18.3 million over mild weekend

They’re back.

After falling from No. 1 at the charts a couple frames ago, those buccaneers from Buena Vista Intl.’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” have returned to pole position at the overseas wickets on their maiden voyage in Italy.

Pic grabbed another $18.3 million over a mild weekend to bring its international cume to $613.2 million.

Italo exhibs had been eagerly awaiting the pic, which played most territories over the summer.

Exhibs there were buoyed by the results of the Johnny Depp starrer, which raked in $12.1 million over a five-day bow. Pic hit a $10,790 per-screen average from 900 engagements.

That number marked the turf’s second best opening ever, and torrential rain didn’t hurt biz.

Italo bizzers thought the pic worked because of its Depp fanbase, the first pic’s success there and its four-quadrant target aud.

Italo exhibs estimate film will add $28 million-$31 million to its chest.

“Dead Man’s Chest” has cumed $612.5 million internationally and $1.03 billion worldwide.

During the weekend, it became the sixth film to pass the $600 million mark in foreign grosses, besting “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s” $602.2 million.

Overseas take for “Chest” should top “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” ($614.7 million). Then only “Titanic” at $1.23 billion, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at $752 million and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at $651 million will stand ahead of “Chest.”

But with little new product from Hollywood creeping into overseas cinemas, local productions were able to capitalize.

Germany’s “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” did so well that it landed at No. 2 behind “Pirates” and ahead of BVI’s “Cars,” with a rollout in only one market.

Constantin pic looks set to become this year’s most successful German film after garnering $9.7 million in its opening weekend.

Tom Tykwer-helmed project is an adaptation of Patrick Suskind’s 1985 bestseller about a young 18th-century Parisian with an extraordinary sense of smell who stops at nothing to create the most wondrous perfume imaginable.

“We’ve been waiting all year for this film, and it has not let anyone down,” said one Teutonic exhib.

Pic’s massive marketing campaign and numerous premieres in Germany had drummed up plenty of publicity for the pic, which took 53% of all Teuton box office revenue this weekend.

By comparison, “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” garnered $5.6 million in its first four days in Germany, and “The Da Vinci Code” made $13.4 million in its first weekend.

Pic also topped the charts in Austria.

“Cars” putted well behind “Perfume” to No. 3 to raise its cume to $192.6 million. Pic was originally pegged as underperforming overseas, but it has hung around the top of the charts into the fall.

CGI toon played well in Italy at No. 2, and set records for Pixar openings in Greece with $510,000 at 90 and in Turkey with $450,000 at 80.

“Cars” looks likely to be the seventh pic to top $200 million internationally this year — joining “Pirates,” “Da Vinci,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “X-Men.”

Warner Bros.’ “Superman Returns,” meantime, is struggling to fly past the $200 million mark: Pic’s foreign cume is $188.1 million to date.

Rounding out the charts were three more holdovers: “Little Man,” “Miami Vice” and “Monster House.”

“Little Man” jumped to a second-place launch in Spain, behind local pic “Alatriste,” with $2 million at 251 screens. Pic has cumed $21.9 million offshore.

“Vice,” meantime, which had disappointed domestically, has cumed $80.5 million internationally. Cop pic has yet to book Italy and China.

In other territories, the U.K. saw a decline in B.O., dropping to its fourth lowest frame in the past year.

Sony’s “Talladega Nights” took the top spot in Blighty, but did not meet bookers’ expectations.

Comedy pic was down 30% from projections, and bookers felt the pic opened softly because of the distinct lack of interest in NASCAR in the U.K. Others suggest Will Ferrell’s appeal in Blighty is limited.

That was after Sony gave the pic a big push, including a high-profile London preem.

Along with its U.S. launch, “The Black Dahlia” also bowed in the U.K., but failed to make any real impact on Brit auds. Pic, from distrib Entertainment, finished third with $1 million.

Sheri Jennings in Italy, Archie Thomas in the U.K., Esther de Prado in Spain and Ed Meza in Germany contributed to this report.