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‘Night’ back in top spot overseas

Stiller starrer takes first place again

It was Fox’s “Night” once again over the weekend at the international wickets, as “Night at the Museum” jumped back into the top spot, beating out Warner Bros.’ political adventure “Blood Diamond” by less than $1 million.

Fox decided to eschew a day-and-date rollout of the Ben Stiller starrer so that the studio could target different markets’ school holidays and corral family auds. The ploy has largely worked; in its latest frame, the slapstick, f/x-laden comedy racked up $14 million from 57 territories to bring its cume to date to $231.5 million.

Rounding out the top five for the week were “Hannibal Rising,” “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Rocky Balboa,” with last weekend’s overseas champ, Will Smith starrer “Happyness,” from Sony, dipping to the No. 4 slot while taking in $11.7 million from 48 markets. Pic follows Smith as a homeless father trying to make ends meet.

In third place was newcomer “Hannibal Rising,” which sliced about $12 million from 10 markets.

“Rocky Balboa” remained a contender, finishing fifth for the week. Pic is being handled by Fox overseas for MGM.

Overall biz kept pace with the same frame a year ago.

As in the U.S., “Night” is holding well from week to week, thanks to repeat viewership in many markets. Its international numbers are in line with its domestic total as a world player. Particularly strong markets for “Night” were France and Italy, where the pic was No. 1, as well as in Spain, where it fell to second in its third frame.

Studio is now expecting the pic to finish in the high $200 million range by the time it runs out of gas; key markets still to come include Japan, where “Night” is expected to have some bright numbers after South Korea generated $26 million.

In its French berth, “Night” broke the chokehold local production has had on Gallic B.O. of late. Shawn Levy-helmed comedy took top spot for new releases, earning Fox $4.5 million on 676.

After weeks of local fare dominating the box office, Hollywood has reasserted itself in France further down the charts, too, as Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio cumed just under $5.3 million on 448 screens for Warner Bros. in its second week.

And local distrib Quinta bowed “Hannibal Rising,” starring local lad Gaspard Ulliel, to more than $2 million on 367.

In Italy, contrary to exhibs’ expectations, “Hannibal Rising” did not oust “Night” from the top spot. Stiller laffer held onto No. 1 in its soph sesh by drawing $3.2 million off 463, down a slight 36%. Italo cume has hit $9.5 million.

“Hannibal” prequel still opened with bite in Italy at $2.9 million off 364, with a $7,800 screen average — which was better than the $6,800 average for “Night.”

Nancy Meyers romancer “The Holiday” from Sony opened strongly in third place with $2 million on 316 via Universal in Italy, a further example of Hollywood’s rebound in another territory that has been partial to its own pics of late.

“Happyness,” the first English-language picture from Italo helmer Gabriele Muccino, plunged 56% in Italy from No. 3 to No. 7 at $726,000 on 198 in its fifth frame for a $19 million cume via Medusa.

In Spain, “Night” lost the top spot, dropping 45% of its biz to take in $2.1 million off 468, still averaging a solid $4,395 per copy.

While Warner’s “Blood Diamond,” which has had a challenging time domestically at the B.O., hit No. 1 in Spain, it’s $2.3 million total off 351 for an average of $6,590 per copy, was slightly below exhibs’ expectations.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with the movie, but it hasn’t been a breakthrough in any of the markets it’s been in,” said an exhib.

“Happyness,” which had been a No. 1 in Spain, dropped 38% to No. 3, grossing $1.6 million off 290. Pic still hit a solid $5,389 per copy: After its second sesh, its cume is about to hit $5 million.

In the U.K., though, “Night” lost ground to some newcomers with local appeal. Warner Bros.’ Hugh Grant romancer “Music and Lyrics” edged ahead of Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web” for top spot in Blighty, with $3.7 million at 432, proving Grant’s potent B.O. potential in his homeland.

“Web” also captured attention in its Brit launch, ensnaring $3.7 million at 490. E.B. White’s 1952 classic children’s book, which “Web” is based on, is still widely read by youngsters, and the pic looks set to do solid biz throughout the half-term vacation, which effectively runs for the next two weeks — half of school kids are off this week, the rest are off the next.

In Germany, “Balboa” was tops, as the pic continued to score decent foreign results.

Teutonic finish was $3.4 million at 552. Still, “Rocky’s” victory was a narrow one against local kids pic “Die Wilden Kerle 4” ($2.9 million). Pugilist pic’s Brazilian opening was $775,000 at 168 as it dances around $60 million overseas.

In other finishes, Fox’s “Epic Movie” managed a respectable $3.6 million at 600 in nine markets, led by its third-place launch in the U.K., with $2.7 million at 327.

Paramount’s “Dreamgirls” remained a moderate performer with $2.9 million at 1,037 in 16 markets internationally. But the pic’s second frame in Blighty was a misstep, with just $1.1 million at 268 after a powerful first frame and preview period.

Other awards contenders showed moderate drawing power, with “Babel” grossing $1.9 million at 742 in Paramount markets; Warner’s “The Departed” scaring up $1.2 million at 980 for a foreign cume of $144.8 million; Fox’s “The Last King of Scotland” taking $1.1 million at 514 in 26 markets; and Warner’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” grossing $406,000 at 295 in its 10th Japanese frame for a total of $41.1 million in that market.

Dave McNary in Hollywood, Nick Vivarelli in Italy, David Hayhurst in France, Gorka Bilbao in Spain and Christian Koehl in Germany contributed to this report.

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