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“Inside Man” got off to a solid start outside the U.S., but “Pink Panther” stayed in the pink in its third frame as the top draw overseas.

Steve Martin laffer pounced on $10.6 million at 4,186 playdates, edging out “Inside Man,” which took in $9.6 million from 1,400 engagements.

Meanwhile, “V for Vendetta” stayed M for Moderate in its second frame, rounding up $5.47 million from 2,164 prints in two dozen markets and pushing its offshore cume to $17.7 million.

“Panther” posted a strong second frame in the U.K., with $2.2 million at 403, down 36%, and saw a decent debut in Italy with $1.3 million at 364. The comedy also opened in first in Thailand with $243,000 at 90. Foreign cume has topped $61 million for Fox and worldwide gross has hit $142 million.

Though “Panther” prevented “Inside Man” from topping the foreign charts, UIP noted initial response to the Denzel Washington thriller bodes well for a run into early summer. Distrib, which opened pic day-and-date in 18 markets, took advantage of positive reviews plus a lack of strong adult-oriented competition: Only “Brokeback Mountain” remains a significant draw among Oscar winners.

“Inside Man” performed best in the U.K. with $3.2 million at 354 playdates, winning the weekend with a 20% share, 7% ahead of “The Interpreter,” and in Germany with $2.3 million at 297 for a 17% share. It finished second in Mexico to the soph sesh of “The Shaggy Dog” with $820,000 at 233, but led in Brazil with $720,000 at 113, in Holland with $430,000 at 65 and in Austria with $300,000 at 53.

Warner Bros.’ “Vendetta” was overwhelmed by “Inside Man” and “Panther” in the U.K. — the setting for the Wachowski brothers’ action-fantasy — as it slid 45% to $1.1 million at 404 and a $4.3 million territory total.

“Vendetta” declined 36% in Italy to $669,000 at 290; 46% in South Korea to $629,000 at 124; and 47% to $553,000 at 360 in Germany. Best hold came in Sweden, down 6% to $235,000 at 40; its Scandi launches led in Norway with $230,000 at 30 and in Finland with $122,000 at 25.

Overall foreign biz continued to lag compared to last year. Same frame of 2005, which marked the Easter holiday, saw two films — “Hitch” and “Robots” — gross more than $16 million. This year, only “Munich” has managed to reach the $15 million weekend mark during the past two months.

“Brokeback Mountain” maintained its status as a solid international player with $4 million, led by its third frame in Germany with $1.2 million at 292 to finish second. Foreign cume for “Brokeback” has hit $83 million and edged past the domestic total by $400,000.

With “Crash” having nearly completed its foreign run prior to winning best picture, the only other notable Oscar winner in release has been “Capote” with $1.4 million at 597 screens and a foreign cume of $13.8 million for Sony. Top gross and playdate count for the biopic came from the U.K., with $145,000 at 66 for a $2.2 million cume.

Sony scared up lukewarm returns from “Hostel” with $4 million at 1,123 engagements in 25 markets, led by a third-place U.K. launch with $2.1 million at 330 and a fourth-place debut in Spain with $1 million at 250. Fox’s “Date Movie” yukked its way to $3.8 million at 1,596, led by a Mexico opening of $473,000 at 200.

BVI family fave “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” took in $3.7 million, mostly from Japan and China, its final markets, as foreign cume hit $420 million and worldwide reached $710 million.

UIP’s “Failure to Launch” showed some traction with $2.8 million at 950 sites in a dozen markets for a foreign cume of $9 million. Warner’s “Firewall” took in a modest $2.2 million at 1,010 playdates, mostly from launching in Spain with $1.3 million at 301. Fox’s “The Hills Have Eyes” also grossed $2.2 million at 1,607 sites with a German opening of $1.2 million at 350.

UIP’s “Pride & Prejudice” opened with $1.2 million at 150 in South Korea, pushing its foreign cume to $76.4 million. Also notching seven figures during the weekend were UIP’s “Nanny McPhee” with $1.2 million for a cume of $61.2 million; Sony’s “Yours, Mine and Ours” with $1.2 million at 412; Fox’s “The Ringer” with $1.1 million at 261 in its U.K. opening; and Sony’s “Underworld: Evolution” with $1 million at 866.