Remy’s time has come — at least on the international stage.
Disney’s “Ratatouille” is leading the foreign box office for the first time, during the Oct. 5-7 frame — its 15th week in release.
As with many family toons, the Mouse House opted to pick and choose dates that would coincide with holidays in each market. That’s why it’s been more than three months since the Pixar toon first hit multiplexes in the United States.
The go-slow strategy of gradually rolling out “Ratatouille” also has been designed to maximize its playability by avoiding direct competition with other summer tentpoles.
“Ratatouille” dominated the frame, with $19.4 million at 3,265 playdates, or more than the combined grosses of the next two top performers — “Resident Evil: Extinction” with $8 million and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” with $6.1 million.
Though “Ratatouille” is long gone from many offshore markets, it’s obviously still got plenty of gas in the tank — such as in Germany, where it opened with a socko $11.8 million. That was five times the No. 2 pic, the second frame of “Chuck and Larry.”
It was more of the same in Austria, where “Ratatouille” opened with $1.2 million, or about three times the take for the soph sesh of “Chuck and Larry.”
The tale of a cooking-obsessed rodent has shown plenty of traction in other markets, such as France, where it still held onto sixth place in its 10th weekend, with $872,391. French cume’s at nearly $60 million and surpassed “Spider-Man 3” last month as France’s top 2007 grosser.
The toon’s already joined the club of 72 pics to gross more than a quarter billion dollars overseas, and should become the 50th film to cross the $300 million mark by the end of the month — with openings coming during the Oct. 12-14 frame in the United Kingdom, and then in Italy and China during the following weekend.
As is typical for a mid-autumn frame, box office in most markets was relatively mild amid a flurry of targeted launches — as opposed to the summer onslaught of day-and-date tentpoles.
“Michael Clayton” and “Eastern Promises” opened on top in Italy and Spain, respectively, following film fest launches in Venice and San Sebastian.
George Clooney starrer “Clayton” easily won in Italy with $1.9 million off 380 — a bow in line with expectations for the legal thriller denouncing corporate greed. Only two other pics — soph seshes of “Evan Almighty” and “Hairspray” managed to surpass $1 million — with Sony’s toon “Surf’s Up” riding in at No. 4, with a decent $938,758.
“Eastern Promises” showed plenty of promise in Spain, leading with $1.27 million at 246, handily topping the launches of “War” and “Flawless.” Performance of “Promises” was aided by strong San Sebastian fest press.
“It’s not a bad average,” says one booker. “But I hope word of mouth will give legs to ‘Promises.'”
Helmer Philip G. Atwell’s “War,” a crimer with martial arts elements, opened at $901,747 via Aurum in second place, in a soft Spanish sesh.
Michael Radford’s “Flawless,” starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, debuted at $764,141, for an acceptable $3,899 screen average via DeAPlaneta.
Italy saw an oddball disappointment with “Rush Hour 3,” marking the first foray outside the arthouse arena for Lucky Red. The Jackie Chan actioner — which performed strongly Stateside with $138 million and decently in foreign plexes with $87 million so far — got minimal Italo action, with a mere $272,000 from 132, opening at No. 12.
“Rush Hour 3” has managed decent grosses in most other markets. In Australia, for example, “Rush Hour 3” stayed in first place with $1.7 million for a two-week cume of $5.9 million. In Spain, the pic’s second frame produced a respectable fourth place and $803,121, for a market cume of $2.37 million.
In the U.K., biz was down 6% compared with the previous frame, as the Ben Stiller laffer “The Heartbreak Kid” managed to come in first with respectable but hardly blockbuster $2.5 million. U.K. auds may have been distracted by a sports-packed weekend, including the Chinese Grand Prix car race, a victory in the Rugby World Cup for England and a championship boxing match featuring Britain’s Aamir Khan.
Political actioner “The Kingdom” didn’t reign over the Blighty box office, settling for a second-place launch of $1.9 million, despite mostly positive reviews and a U.K. preem with stars Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner. Brit exhibs have been expressing concern over how other war-related pics, such as “In the Valley of Elah,” “Rendition” and “Lions for Lambs,” will fare in the coming weeks.
Universal continued to see strong performance from awards season candidate “Atonement,” with $1.1 million in its fifth frame — good enough for fourth place and a Brit cume of $19.6 million. The Keira Knightley drama doesn’t open Stateside until December.
In Gaul, UGC’s “Un secret,” helmer Claude Miller’s tragic tale of a World War II family’s dark secrets, led with $3.1 million on 331 after five days. Fellow opener “Resident Evil: Extinction” followed with $2.4 million, representing a mild disappointment for Metropolitan; its perf wasn’t nearly as robust as the franchise’s previous two titles.
“Intimate Enemies,” helmer Florent-Emilio Siri’s take on French special forces hunting guerrillas during the Algerian conflict, turned in a moderate $1.9 million on 362 in its first five days.
Ali Jaafar in the U.K., Emilio Mayorga in Spain and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.