‘Bourne’ pulls the trigger overseas

Universal film grosses $15.2 million

Universal’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” cracked the foreign box office code over the Aug. 24-26 frame to emerge as the market leader with a weekend take of $15.2 million.

Pic, playing at 2,059 playdates in 25 markets, is having no trouble outperforming the two previous “Bourne” movies. It is playing especially well in the U.K., where it placed first for the second weekend in a row. Pic also held nicely in Spain and had a first-place launch in Russia. Cume is $52.6 million.

Even with summer winding to a close, Hollywood pics were still able to eke out decent business abroad for the frame, capping a record-breaking sesh.

The international box office is running 15% ahead of summer 2006; the domestic B.O.’s summer bump is only 7% over 2006.

Many films have done more business overseas than in the U.S., but this summer, the phenomenon took on greater strength.

Titles that weren’t necessarily expected to resonate as strongly abroad more than outpaced expectations.

DreamWorks-Paramount’s “Transformers,” based on toys most familiar in the U.S., wasn’t predicted to wow internationally but grossed a surprising $367.1 million overseas vs. $308.6 million domestically.

The fate of 20th Century Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie” initially was uncertain as well despite the toon’s popularity in many countries. Execs weren’t sure whether auds would just as soon stay home and watch the 2-D animated family on TV.

Fox execs themselves were surprised by the pic’s runaway success overseas, where it is nearing the $300 million mark. Toon has grossed $173.4 million domestically.

Hollywood’s top male stars — both past and new — also drove plenty of biz. Warner Bros.’ three-quel “Ocean’s Thirteen” has grossed $185 million overseas vs. $166.9 million domestically.

Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard,” known as “Die Hard 4.0” overseas, boasts an impressive foreign gross of $220.2 million and a domestic take of $135.1 million. Pic returned Bruce Willis, who enjoys a strong international following, to the bigscreen as the rough-and-tumble cop John McClane after a lengthy absence.

Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille” has already cooked up a healthy haul overseas, even though it has yet to open in half of its major markets. Toon moved up the international box office chart to No. 2 over the Aug. 24-26 frame, grossing $11.8 million from 2,820 locations. Toon declined 29% from the previous weekend; cume is $172.3 million.

“Simpsons” came in No. 3 just behind “Ratatouille,” declining 48% to $11.5 million for a cume of $289.7 million.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” passed the $600 million mark overseas during the frame. Tentpole declined 34% to $10.3 million for a cume of $612.1 million. Total is the sixth-largest ever.

Universal’s raunchy laffer “Knocked Up” came in No. 5 for the weekend of Aug. 24-26, grossing $7 million as it expanded to 1,628 runs in 19 markets. Yank comedy delivered decent numbers as it debuted in the U.K. and Germany even as soaring temperatures drove down attendance in the U.K.

“Knocked Up” took second to “Bourne” in the U.K. with a bow of $3.2 million at 424 screens. Pic’s showing was helped by pre-release buzz and positive reviews from Brit critics. The comedy enjoyed a first-place German opening of $2.2 million. Perf in both territories bested that of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

“Transformers” came in No. 6 behind “Knocked Up” for the frame, adding $5.7 million to its coffers from 3,903 locations, down 49%.

U continued to see only moderate numbers for comedy “Evan Almighty,” which placed No. 7 internationally. Laffer grossed $5.3 million from 2,760 locations in 35 territories for a cume of $40.7 million. Frame was led by a first-place Spanish bow of $1.8 million.

“Evan” has been one of the summer’s few disappointments, both abroad and domestically, where pic grossed just under $100 million as of Aug. 27.

New Line’s “Rush Hour 3” came in No. 8 overseas, grossing $5 million from 2,072 runs for a cume of $36.8 million.

Fox’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” placed No. 9, grossing $3.4 million, down 36%, from 1,964 theaters. Cume is $141.7 million.

Taking No. 10 was Sony toon “Surf’s Up,” which grossed $3.4 million, down 52%, from 1,973 locations. Like “Evan,” the toon has been a disappointment; cume is $32.2 million.

Archie Thomas in London and John Hopewell in Spain contributed to this report.

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