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Underlining the power of family films, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” easily led the foreign box office with $10.3 million at 1,163 playdates during the weekend.

BVI’s “Lion” conjured most of its coin with an impressive Japanese launch with $9.2 million at 655 (including $2.26 million from Feb. 25 previews), eclipsing the distrib’s previous record for that market set by “Finding Nemo.” BVI’s promo in Japan featured an extensive sales campaign for C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” books, which had been largely unknown in the market.

Frame also marked the sixth first-place finish for “Lion,” which led for five consecutive weeks starting with the Christmas weekend.  Pic has now cumed $389 million overseas, making it the 19th highest foreign grosser, and $678 million worldwide.

The fantasy adventure’s still got some gas in its tank, with BVI Japan having forecast grosses of $86 million in that market and its final opening in China next weekend.  “Lion” ended a two-weekend skid in which no U.S. film topped $10 million overseas, but overall biz remained modest compared with the same frame last year, when “Hitch” led with $21.1 million.

Warner’s “Syriana,” which won the previous weekend with a modest $5.9 million, led the rest of the pack with $7.4 million at 1,900 screens in 40 markets as the distrib took advantage of the pic’s Oscar noms for supporting actor and original screenplay. Biggest contributions from launches in the U.K. with $1.48 million at 236 and in Spain with $1.1 million at 206 and its French soph sesh with $1.06 million at 248.

“Syriana” held well in its Italian second frame with a 30% decline to $871,000 at 255, ranking behind the third frame of “La Notte prima degli esami” and the launch of “Wallace & Gromit.” But “Syriana” showed little traction in Japan, with $521,000 at 178 engagements.

“Brokeback Mountain” continued to benefit from awards season buzz to finish third overall with $4.5 million, lifting foreign cume to $59 million, led by $16.7 million in the U.K. The cowboy love saga launched solidly in second place Mexico with $700,000 at 150, posting the highest per-screen average in the top 10.

Sony’s “Capote” took advantage of its five Oscar noms to pull in a respectable $2.14 million at 490 playdates in 32 markets. Best numbers came from second frames in the U.K., with $360,000 at 61, and Spain, with $335,000 at 105, for respective declines of only 14% and 28% and cumes of $1 million each.

“Capote,” the final best picture nominee to launch overseas, opened with $285,000 at 57 in Germany and with an impressive $125,000 at 19 in Argentina to finish second in the latter market. Foreign cume is $5.2 million.

“Memoirs of a Geisha,” sporting six noms for tech Oscars, continued to post decent overseas numbers with $4.3 million to lift foreign cume to $88 million. Best performance in Europe has come from Spain, with $12.8 million after seven weeks, nearly equaling the Japanese cume.

“Munich,” with five Oscar noms, began to disappear in its sixth sesh with $2.2 million at 2,283 sites in 51 markets. The drama, which led U.S. pics overseas in its first four weekends, has cumed $76.1 million offshore, well under typical performance for Steven Spielberg films.

Fox’s “The Pink Panther” tickled foreign funny bones with $4 million, led by a first-place finish in Spain with $1.9 million in its soph sesh. “Panther” launched in second in Belgium with $335,000 at 40 and took in $288,000 at 70 in Holland.

Sony’s “Fun With Dick and Jane” remained a foreign player with $3.9 million at 2,040 in 53 markets, lifting foreign cume past $80 million. “Fun” impressed in the booming Russian market with a launch of $1.07 million at 274.

BVI’s German soccer comedy “Wild Bunch 3” opened solidly with $3.6 million at 550 playdates to lead that market while the fifth frame of French comedy sequel “Friends Forever,” aka “Les Bronzes 3,” stayed in first with $3.1 million at 855. “Friends Forever,” distribbed by Warner France, has cumed an eye-popping $71.7 million.

A trio of entries grossed $2.9 million — BVI’s “Bambi II,” lifting foreign cume to $25.5 million; Fox’s “Big Momma’s House 2,” with $47 million overseas; and “Underworld: Evolution” with $30 million internationally for Sony/Lakeshore. Three other pics cleared $2 million, led by Fox’s “Date Movie” with $2.7 million, followed by Sony’s “Hostel” with $2.3 million at 830 and BVI’s “Chicken Little” with $2.1 million to push its foreign take to $172.2 million. 

Fox’s “Walk the Line,” with five Oscar noms, remained a moderate overseas performer with $1.5 million to push foreign cume to $41 million.