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‘Ghost Rider’ rides across world box office

Cage starrer takes top spot overseas

Sony’s review-proof “Ghost Rider” ran roughshod over the foreign B.O. over the most recent frame — just as the comicbook-hero pic did at home — taking in $16.4 million from 25 markets overseas.

But “Ghost” hasn’t rolled into most key Euro markets, leaving the door open for local fare to shine in the U.K., France and Italy.

Some of Hollywood’s Oscar pics — including “Letter From Iwo Jima” and “Dreamgirls” — expanded, meanwhile, with marginal results at foreign wickets.

Without “Rider’s” rampage, news was made by Euro pics including “Hot Fuzz,” “Night Before Exams: Today” and “Taxi 4,” which topped the charts in Britain, Italy and France where locals largely ignored Hollywood product.

Nicolas Cage-starrer “Ghost” was led by a non-Euro launch, Russia, which ponied up $4.1 million off 401 for the big-screen adaptation of Marvel comicbook supernatural stunt rider Johnny Blaze.

Other blazing finishes for the pic came in Spanish-speaking markets, including Spain and Mexico, as well as Asian turf including Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

“Rider” will next roll into France, Germany, Scandinavia, the U.K. and Japan to try and burn up more B.O. biz. Pic’s cume stood at $68 million worldwide off its initial weekend run.

Oddly, “Ghost” sneaked into Spain’s No. 1 slot with very little known there about the property. “We had our doubts about the film’s potential, given that the franchise is not known in Spain,” one booker says.

Nevertheless, “Ghost Rider” was the only B.O. behemoth over the frame. Bowing with a wide run of 415 copies, the Cage vehicle took in $3.1 million for a standout $7,529 per copy, equaling some exhibs’ highest expectations.

Pic handily moved last frame’s Spanish No. 1, Warner’s “Blood Diamond” to No. 2, which also surprised locals. The African political drama lost 40% in its second Spanish frame, with $1.4 off 348, an average of $4,059 per copy.

At No. 2 on the world charts, Fox’s “Night at the Museum” reeled in another $14.1 million from 45 territories to raise its international cume to $250.1 million.

But most headlines in key markets were made by local pics.

In the U.K., Edgar Wright’s homegrown comedy “Hot Fuzz” was able to translate prerelease buzz into boffo biz. Kicking off Wednesday “Fuzz” banked $11.5 million in its first five days.

In Blighty, that was a huge haul, considering Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead,” which starred “Fuzz” topliners Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, grossed $12.8 million over the entirety of its run. An $8.5 million take Friday through Sunday was well over twice that of the next best weekend performer — Paramount’s half-term kiddie treat “Charlotte’s Web,” which did $3.7 million at 495.

Kid pic “Web” was able to stick it to Warner’s “Music and Lyrics,” which wrote up only $2.8 million in its soph sesh despite having local fave Hugh Grant as its male lead. Pic has cumed $10.1 million in Blighty to date.

“Fuzz’s” take in just one market was enough to put the pic at No. 3 on the world charts overall, beating out “Blood Diamond” at No. 4 and fifth place finisher “The Pursuit of Happyness,” from Sony.

“Blood” has taken in $78.1 million overseas, from 59 markets, exceeding the pic’s domestic take of $55.9 million.

Feel-good yarn “Happyness,” starring Will Smith, has drummed up $104.3 million overseas, proving the star’s potency abroad. Pic’s domestic cume sits at $162.1 million.

Over in France, the Luc Besson-scripted, Gerard Krawczyk-helmed “Taxi 4” ran right over all top-spot contenders, hitting the meter for $12.9 million in its first five days on 867 screens for Europacorp. Start very well might make the pic Besson’s biggest ever in his homeland.

With Gallic auds lapping up French-language fare, Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en rose,” helmed by Olivier Dahan, sang to some solid coin in No. 2 for TFM. Pic brought in $9,322,734 on 675. Picturehouse has U.S. rights to the pic.

But as with U.S. auds over the Presidents Day frame, the French seemed to be in a moviegoing mood, bringing good news to Hollywood offerings, too. Shawn Levy’s “Night at the Museum” has cumed nearly $8.4 million off 103 for Fox there two weeks in France, and Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond” stayed strong in its third week, cuming $7.1 million.

Over it Italy, auds also came out for homegrown pics over Hollywood fare.

Italo romantic comedy “Night Before Exams Today” ruled the roost, pulling $6 million on 604 over the weekend, following a boffo St. Valentine’s Day opening for a $7.6 million five-day cume, the only new entry in the top 10 in a weekend full of holdovers. Cross-generational yarn spinning school pains with teen and adult love affairs ousted “Museum” from the top spot.

Ben Stiller-laffer “Museum” slid 48%, grossing $1.7 million on 364 for a $12 million three-week cume, per national box office compiler Cinetel.

With no “Rider” rolling, German B.O. slipped 33%, with new entries such as “Hannibal Rising” generating few sparks. Holdover “Rocky Balboa” stayed at No. 1 in its second Teutonic round.

Among Oscar pics abroad, Warners expanded “Letters From Iwo Jima,” which had been playing only in Japan, into 18 markets in limited runs. War epic shot up $1.5 million from 560, led by Spain. At No. 8 in its bow there, “Iwo Jima” took $369,348 off 68 for a decent $5,431 per-copy average.

“Copies were very well-placed, so it worked well in almost every cinema it was in,” says a Spanish bizzer. “Subtitles didn’t affect the result, since its target demo is already familiar with them.”

And Paramount’s “Dreamgirls” danced to $3.6 million at 1,347 in 26 markets. Musical was led by a Japanese launch with $1.7 million at 288. But the pic hasn’t translated overseas to boffo biz: “Dreamgirls” has cumed a moderate $19.1 million internationally.

Nick Vivarelli in Italy, David Hayhurst in France, Ed Meza in Germany, Gorka Bilbao in Spain, Archie Thomas in the U.K. and Dave McNary in Hollywood contributed to this report..

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