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“V for Vendetta” was pounced on overseas by “The Pink Panther,” which logged its second straight victory at the foreign box office with $12.3 million at 3,900 playdates during the weekend.

Steve Martin starrer easily topped a moderate launch for “V,” which grossed $8.5 million with more than 2,000 prints.

“Vendetta” — featuring a poetry-spouting, masked avenger who tries to blow up London’s central criminal court — was beaten handily in the U.K. by “Panther,” which posted its top performance in Blighty with $3.5 million at 400 engagements, 67% ahead of “Vendetta” with $2.1 million at 405.

“Vendetta” was originally set for November release to coincide with the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ unsuccessful attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605. Pic was delayed after the London subway bombings last fall.

Weekend’s results reflect ongoing sluggishness in overseas markets so far in 2006 amid lack of mass appeal titles. The frame marked the ninth consecutive weekend in which a U.S. film has failed to go past $15 million offshore, dating back to mid-January when “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” led with $20.1 million.

“Panther,” which is set in France, slid 46% in its French soph sesh to $874,000 at 504 playdates. Fox, which is handling the foreign side, has cumed $47.3 million offshore for “Panther” to go along with Sony/MGM’s $78.6 million domestic total. In Germany, the second frame of “Panther” declined 31% to $1.4 million at 543 sites, 33% ahead of “Vendetta.”

Warners’ “Vendetta,” which opened day-and-date in 16 markets as the first major action film of 2006, generated respectable rather blockbuster figures in most territories. The Natalie Portman starrer led in South Korea with $1.3 million at 128 engagements, in Taiwan with $315,000 at 70, in Sweden with $229,000 at 40, in Singapore with $220,000 at 22 and in the Philippines with $210,000 at 45.

But BVI’s “The Shaggy Dog” put the bite on “Vendetta” in Mexico as the family comedy’s launch easily won with $1.1 million at 350, 40% ahead of “Vendetta” with $788,000 at 354.

Overall biz for the frame looked lackluster compared with the same weekend of 2005, when “Hitch” led with $22.7 million, followed by “Robots” with $16.4 million. The year started auspiciously with “Narnia” winning the first three weekends with $41.5 million, $30 million and $20.1 million but has generally lagged 2005’s results since then.

“Narnia” stayed a solid contributor with $5.2 million at 1,967 playdates in 27 markets — mostly from Japan, where the family fave’s led for three straight frames with $4 million at 782 for a 16-day cume of $28 million. Its Chinese soph sesh also finished first with $1.2 million at 384.

“Narnia” has cumed $414.1 million overseas and $703.4 million worldwide, becoming the 21st pic to cross the $700 million milestone.

This year has also lagged last year due to the absence of a post-Oscar bounce anywhere near the 2005 period when “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Aviator” generated impressive numbers. Best performance among Oscar winners during the weekend came from “Brokeback Mountain,” which remained a factor in foreign markets with $4.5 million, pushing its foreign cume to $76 million and its worldwide total to $158 million.

“Brokeback” posted its most impressive numbers in Germany with a first-place finish in its second frame, declining just 15% to $1.6 million at 246 playdates and edging the third weekend of BVI’s local soccer comedy “Wild Bunch 3.”

Other Oscar winners also showed some lingering traction as Warners’ “Syriana” took in $3.6 million to move its cume to $34 million and Fox’s “Walk the Line” grossed $3 million to push its overseas biz to $54.5 million. And Sony’s limited release of “Capote” pulled in $1.7 million at 620 to push its foreign total to $11.4 million.

Fox’s spoof comedy “Date Movie” translated well enough for a moderate $4 million at 1,395 playdates, led by a Spanish opening with $1.4 million at 275 to finish behind local entry “Volver.” UIP saw similar results from launching “Failure to Launch” with $3.87 million at 1,070 sites, led by a second in Germany with $1.4 million at 340 and a third in Mexico with $645,000 at 237.

Sony scared up $2 million at 931 in a dozen markets for “Underworld: Evolution,” including first-place launches in Brazil with $545,000 at 153 and in New Zealand with $195,000 at 48. And its first overseas showing of “When a Stranger Calls” rang up a moderate $835,000 at 187 in Australia.

BVI’s first foreign launch of “Eight Below” led in Hong Kong with $645,000 at 30 to go along with $610,000 at 160 in Japan. Other pics hitting seven figures included Fox’s “The Hills Have Eyes” with $1.4 million, Sony’s “Hostel” with $1.3 million, Warner’s “Firewall” with $1.2 million and UIP’s “Nanny McPhee” with $1 million.

Fox’s local production “Un Mundo Maravillosa” opened decently in third in Mexico with $667,000 at 300 sites, representing the top debut of a Mexican film this year.