‘Bourne’ supreme overseas

Spy thriller dominates international box office

Superspy Jason Bourne shot to the top slot at the international box office as “The Bourne Ultimatum” dominated a typically moderate early fall frame with $16.5 million at 3,660 playdates in 37 markets.

“Ultimatum” matched the combined grosses of the next two pics — “Ratatouille” and “Shrek the Third” — as Universal’s thriller won its third international crown in the last four frames.

The weekend also saw critical fave “Atonement” open solidly in the U.K., its first market, as U’s romancer battled local pic “Run, Fat Boy, Run” for first with $3.3 million at 411. That’s more than double the launches of “The Queen” and “Finding Neverland.”

As has been typical of 2007, overall biz continued to track well ahead of a year ago, with the top five pics combining for $43 million — $13 million more than the 2006 weekend, when “Cars” led with $9 million.

“The Bourne Ultimatum” continued to attract action fans, mostly from a trio of major markets –Germany, with a first-place launch of $5 million, more than double the openings of the previous “Bourne” pics; Australia, with a 38% decline in its soph sesh to $3.1 million, topping the “Ratatouille” debut; and the U.K., with a 51% slide in its fourth frame to $2.2 million. It also grabbed first in its Mexican launch with $1.5 million.

“Ultimatum” has met studio forecasts and cumed $98.8 million internationally — $6 million ahead of “The Bourne Identity” and $13 million behind “The Bourne Supremacy.” It opens in France and Belgium next weekend.

Disney’s “Ratatouille” finished a distant second with $8.5 million at 2,809 in 34 markets, led by a $2.9 million opening in Australia — where school holidays start Monday — and its sixth French frame with $1.5 million for its sixth straight victory. The Paris-set toon’s been embraced by French audiences with a $52.6 million market total, trailing “Spider-Man 3” by only $400,000 as the top grosser of 2007.

“Ratatouille” also crossed the $200 million mark in international grosses, the ninth pic to hit that milestone this year following “300,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Shrek the Third,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Transformers,” “The Simpsons Movie” and “Live Free or Die Hard.” With more than three months left, 2007 has already matched the total of $200 million grossers released last year — underlining the key driver in this year’s 20% hike in overseas biz for the major studios.

“Ratatouille” is also the 25th Disney pic to top $200 million internationally and has nearly matched the domestic cume. And it’s still got plenty of gas in the tank with October openings set for the U.K., Germany, Italy and Scandinavia.

Par’s “Shrek the Third” continued grabbing green with $8 million at 1,933 to push the foreign cume to $451 million — 21st highest of all time and only $28 million short of “Shrek 2.” Key coin came from the Italian soph sesh, declining 47% to $4.3 million.

U’s expanded “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” took fourth with $5.4 million at 1,600 in 22 markets, led by a $1.2 million first-place launch in Russia and a second-place opening in Italy with $1 million. The Adam Sandler comedy has cumed $15.4 million overseas with debuts later this month in the U.K. and Germany; expectations aren’t particularly elevated since “Click” is the only Sandler title to hit $100 million internationally.

Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard,” known overseas as “Die Hard 4.0,” led the rest of the pack with $4.4 million at 1,500 in 19 markets — mostly from a solid Spanish launch with $3.7 million for a 40% share. The actioner has totaled $227.8 million overseas, where Bruce Willis remains a major draw.

“The Simpsons Movie” and “Knocked Up” took in $4.1 million each. “Simpsons” has cumed a surprisingly strong $309.4 million overseas while “Knocked” is at $44.5 million from 19 markets, led by nearly $13 million in the U.K. after 17 days, with 30 territories still to launch.

Warner Bros. ninth weekend of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” padded its foreign total with $3.6 million at 4,300 in 58 markets to lift its overseas cume to $635 million, the sixth highest of all time. The fifth Potter pic will probably surpass No. 5 on that list — “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” at $642 million — by the end of its run.

Warner’s “No Reservations” also took in $3.6 million at more than 1,500 sites for an international cume of $18.2 million. The Catherine Zeta-Jones restaurant romancer expands to France, Germany and Italy next weekend.

Par’s “Disturbia” scared up $3 million to boost its offshore take to $24.7 million and U’s “Evan Almighty” continued to turn in modest biz with $2.3 million to push the foreign cume to $52 million. Par’s “Transformers” grabbed $1.9 million to lift the international total to $378.9 million.

Two other pics topped $1 million — Par’s “Stardust” with $1.5 million, thanks to a $1 million Mexican launch, and Sony’s “Surf’s Up” with $1.4 million. Overseas perf for “Surf’s Up” has mirrored its moderate domestic perf, cuming $39 million and opens next frame in Australia and Germany.

Disney’s “Underdog” put the bite on $510,000 in Brazil in its first foreign opening, on par with “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”

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