Adam Sandler’s “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” edged “The Bourne Ultimatum” with $9.3 million at 2,512 playdates in 38 territories to land the top weekend spot in a mild frame at the foreign box office.
Frame also saw Ang Lee’s erotic “Lust, Caution” open with a socko $2.9 million at 95 playdates in Lee’s homeland of Taiwan, setting a record for top September launch in that market. George Clooney’s drama “Michael Clayton” debuted less impressively in the U.K. with $1.26 million at 295, a week ahead of its Stateside opening.
“Chuck and Larry,” which logged seven No. 1 launches, posted the lowest winning international total in five months, since “Wild Hogs” led with $8 million during the final April frame. This weekend was also one of the few in 2007 in which the top pic didn’t exceed the box office take of the leader in the same frame last year. “World Trade Center” won the same frame in 2006 with $12.3 million.
As has been the case since late summer, Universal dominated this weekend with about $30 million — 60% of that from “Chuck and Larry” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Studio’s foreign strategy, which has been to expand major titles as rivals’ summer tentpoles vanish, saw U pics lead every September frame, leading to a take of more than $170 million for the month.
Should U’s late-year push prove effective, it could place the studio on equal footing with its five rivals by the end of the year — the first following the end of Universal’s and Paramount’s partnership in UIP. As of a month ago, the other five studios (Disney, Fox, Par, Sony, Warner Bros.) had all topped $1 billion in foreign grosses this year, while U’s total had hit only $555 million (with “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” the leader at $189 million).
With U now at $723 million overseas, it could hit the 10-figure mark by year’s end but will need strong international perfs from “The Kingdom” and “American Gangster” to do so. While both pics carry the advantage of recognizable stars, neither’s a slam dunk given subject matter that may prove tricky to sell outside the U.S.
“The Kingdom,” starring Jamie Foxx in a Mideast military thriller, launches its foreign run next weekend in Australia and New Zealand, followed by openings in most major markets through November. Foxx’s previous actioner, “Miami Vice,” turned in respectable overseas numbers with $100 million — far better than its $63 million domestic cume.
“American Gangster,” starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in a story of 1970s drug wars, opens domestically in early November, with many key offshore territories debuting by the end of the year. Washington starrer “Inside Man” generated decent foreign biz with $96 million — $8 million ahead of the domestic cume.
Should Universal hit $1 billion overseas, it would mark the first time all six studios have achieved the milestone. And it would underline Hollywood’s powerful overseas performance this year with combined grosses for the majors still about 20% ahead of last year’s record-setting pace.
“Chuck and Larry” posted its top figure in its German launch with $3.1 million, topping debuts for “Resident Evil: Extinction” and “The Brave One” and 51% ahead of “Click.” It also finished first in Mexico with a $1 million launch and in Sweden with $225,000.
“Chuck and Larry” has cumed $38 million overseas with 11 markets left to open. Overseas expectations hadn’t been particularly high as “Click” is the only film in the Sandler canon to hit $100 million outside the U.S.
“The Bourne Ultimatum” finished a close second with $8.7 million at 4,000 in 42 markets, led by its third French frame with $1.5 million, off 34%. The three-quel, which has topped five of the last six frames, has outperformed forecasts with a foreign cume of $161.7 million — well above final totals for “The Bourne Identity” at $96 million and “The Bourne Supremacy” at $112 million.
Universal also saw continued moderate takings from “Evan Almighty” with $3.6 million at 1,035 in 39 territories, led by a second-place $1.7 million Italian launch as the foreign total for the expensive laffer hit $61.3 million.
“Knocked Up,” U’s most successful summer comedy, took in $1.3 million at 960 dates in 25 territories, including No. 2 openings in Holland and South Africa; the R-rated hit has totaled $53.7 million overseas but still has gas in the tank with two dozen markets to come, including France, Italy and Spain later in October.
U also saw Keira Knightley drama “Atonement” continue to perform well with $2.2 million at 597, mostly from its third straight first-place finish in the U.K. with $1.8 million in its third close battle with Simon Pegg comedy “Run, Fat Boy, Run.” Foreign cume on “Atonement” has hit $18.3 million from three markets; its Stateside launch is set for Dec. 7.
Warner Bros. expanded its foreign run of “The Brave One,” and the pic shot into third with a moderate $6.7 million at 2,050 in 21 markets as the Jodie Foster vehicle mirrored its modest $31 million domestic performance. Spain turned in the best perf with $1.3 million, tied for first with the “Rush Hour 3” opening, followed by $1.1 million launches in Germany and France, an eighth-place $1 million Brit opening (trailing launches of “Halloween,” “Michael Clayton” and “Mr. Woodcock”) and an $859,000 Italian debut.
Disney’s “Ratatouille” followed in fourth with $5.2 million at 2,574 in 34 markets as France stayed stellar in its ninth frame with $1.3 million, down 15% to lift the Paris-set toon’s French total to $57.8 million — making it the top 2007 pic in that market. The Pixar pic has cumed a tasty $223 million overseas from only 60% of foreign markets, with Germany launching next weekend.
Warner’s “No Reservations” cooked up $4.5 million at 2,300 in 53 markets, led by a fourth-place Japanese launch of $1.1 million. The dramedy’s been decent on the foreign front with a $37 million cume — $5 million short of the domestic total.
“Resident Evil: Extinction” was also a player over the weekend with at least $4 million via a second-place German launch and soph seshes in Russia and Mexico, tying for first in the latter market with $1.4 million. Early “Evil” numbers are in line with forecasts; the two previous “Resident Evil” pics combined for $150 million internationally.
Sony’s raunchy “Superbad” stayed on a moderate course with $4 million at 1,240 in 14 markets, led by its third Brit frame with $1.5 million and a $1.1 million Russian launch. Foreign cume’s hit $16.3 million with launches next weekend in Germany and Mexico. Pic’s performance so far is in line with expectations given the difficulties of selling most R-rated comedies overseas.
Two other pics topped $2 million — Sony’s “Surf’s Up” with $2.8 million at 1,825 in three dozen markets to push foreign cume past $50 million; and Par’s “Stardust” with $2.1 million at 720 from 17 territories for a $22.5 million international total.