‘Surfer’ boards box office

Fox's sequel to fight off 'Oceans,' 'Drew'

After Sony scored big with its Marvel superhero pic “Spider-Man 3” last month, Fox flies this weekend with its own Marvel sequel, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” in 3,957 theaters.

Pic looks sure to muscle away the B.O. crown from Warner Bros.’ “Ocean’s Thirteen.” But tracking suggests that it will bow below the $56 million its “Fantastic” predecessor hit in its July opening two years ago. Pic is tracking well with males, but women are lagging behind in interest.

Last weekend “Ocean’s Thirteen” had been tracking to outdo the last pic in Steven Soderbergh’s heist series, but the ensembler came in $3 million below the first three days of “Ocean’s Twelve.”

Counterprogramming against “Fantastic” — in 2,612 — is Warner Bros.’ PG-rated “Nancy Drew,” the revival of the kid-lit mystery series.

Add to the mix Disney’s sneaks for its Pixar pic “Ratatouille” on Saturday.

Holdovers include Universal laffer “Knocked Up,” which has been hanging tough.

Overall, B.O. has cooled a bit lately after a socko start to the summer. Ticket tallies were off 11.8% last weekend from the same frame a year ago. But the year is still outpacing 2006 overall by 5.2% through last weekend.

Specialty pics, meanwhile, have been playing well lower down in the charts as the blockbusters slug it out to hold fans. Among more limited releases, Miramax sends out its quirky Kiwi indie pic “Eagle vs. Shark,” while Roadside Attractions unleashes “Fido” and ThinkFilm goes with two pics, “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” and “Blood and Tears.”

Weinstein Co. kicks off a regional release of its “D.O.A.”

On the foreign front, the frame should be the most competitive of the year as “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” moves into its fourth weekend after cuming a record-setting $512 million overseas in its first 22 days. The buccaneers are likely to see biz decline by about 50% and wind up in the $25 million range, although the first weekend in China could generate solid takings.

Third “Pirates” pic had little competition overseas in its first two frames other than the fourth and fifth weekends of “Spider-Man 3.” Those two sequels combined have pulled well over $1 billion in foreign grosses in the past six weeks.

“Ocean’s Thirteen,” “Shrek the Third” and “Silver Surfer” will all challenge “At World’s End” for the top slot. Par’s “Shrek the Third” expands into Brazil, France, Mexico and Taiwan. Toon tallied an impressive first-day French gross of $2.1 million on Wednesday; “Shrek 2” took in more than $50 million in France.

Warner is widening “Ocean’s Thirteen” with launches in Australia, Holland and South Korea. The two previous pics in the series performed exceptionally overseas, with combined grosses hitting $500 million.

Fox goes day-and-date with “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” in over 3,000 playdates in 31 markets, including Italy, Russia and the U.K. The original performed above expectations two years ago, with worldwide grosses totaling $330 million, including $175 million from the international side; Mexico and the U.K. led the way with $22 million each.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)