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‘Compass’ shows way overseas

New Line film dominates frame

While “The Golden Compass” may have been off the mark in its domestic debut, the action fantasy film seems to have found its bearings abroad.

Movie took in $55 million at 5,000 playdates in 25 overseas markets, more than doubling its U.S. takings.

New Line pic hit the target with international moviegoers, tallying first-place launches in the U.K. with $18 million, in Spain with $10 million and in France, Germany and Russia with $5 million each. Thailand delivered an impressive $2 million opening, and Poland chipped in with $1 million.

Rolf Mittweg, New Line prexy and chief operating officer of worldwide distribution and marketing, said expectations for “The Golden Compass” had always been higher for overseas markets, partly due to the pic’s international feel and cast. New Line showed 20 minutes of “Compass” at Cannes and held the film’s world preem in London.

“We think it should play very well through the new year, particularly for families,” added Mittweg.

“Compass” dominated the frame, taking in far more than the combined total of the next four pics: “Enchanted,” “Bee Movie,” “Beowulf” and “Hitman.” It opens next weekend in Italy and South America, goes into Australia on Boxing Day and launches in Japan in March.

Given the strong appetite for fantasy films in foreign markets, pic looks likely to finish with an overseas cume of more than $200 million. But since New Line used foreign pre-sales to finance most of the $180 million “Compass” budget, its take from international box office is mostly capped.

Overall foreign biz was on a par with the same frame of 2006, when “Casino Royale” and “Happy Feet” combined for $60 million. International takings should stay sturdy for the rest of the year thanks to family-oriented pics like “Compass,” “Bee Movie” and “Enchanted” along with the arrival of sci-fi actioner “I Am Legend,” which begins its international launches next weekend.

Disney’s “Enchanted” led the rest of the pack with $11.6 million at 2,594 in 18 markets, led by its second French frame, off 33% to $3.8 million. The romancer found love in its Italian launch with a first-place $3.4 million and declined just 21% in its third Spanish frame to $1.7 million.

Pic, which has met Mouse House expectations so far with $35.8 million offshore, should also be a serious foreign player in coming weeks with launches in the U.K. and Mexico next frame and in Germany on Dec. 20.

Paramount’s “Bee Movie” buzzed up $10.1 million at 2,050 in 21 territories, led by an Australian launch of $2.8 million and its Spanish soph sesh with $2.4 million, down only 14%. “Bee,” which has cumed $32.7 million internationally, expands next frame in the France, Germany and U.K.

“Beowulf,” which had won the three previous sessions, grabbed another $9.2 million at more than 5,000 sites in 60 markets. Actioner has cumed $91.6 million overseas for Warner Bros. for a worldwide total of $168 million.

Fox’s “Hitman” gunned down $7.5 million at 2,675 in 38 markets, led by a $1.2 million launch in Australia for a cume of $23. 5 million. Universal’s “American Gangster” shot up $5 million at 1,710 in 20 territories, pushing its foreign total to $47.9 million while still fairly early in its offshore run.

Par’s “The Heartbreak Kid” continued to post decent overseas numbers, with $4.8 million at 2,025 in 51 markets, to lift the foreign total to $79 million — more than double the film’s domestic cume.

Warner’s “Fred Claus” showed moderate traction with $4.3 million at 1,400 in 18 markets — mostly from its second Brit frame with $2.8 million, down 30%. “Fred” has cumed $13.6 million early in its offshore run and opens next frame in Holland and Spain.

“Lions for Lambs” has nearly disappeared abroad, with $1 million at 1,500 in four dozen markets, pushing the foreign total to a disappointing $31.2 million. Still, that’s more than the double the anemic $14.8 million cumed Stateside.

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