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Foreign box office still sings for ‘Mia’

Summer successes dominate abroad

“Mamma Mia!” remained golden at the international box office, easily winning the weekend with $17.5 million at 4,296 playdates in 44 markets in a frame dominated by summer successes.

Universal’s feel-good tuner has totaled an eye-popping $307 million outside the United States, dwarfing the $139 million domestic cume. And with back-to-back first-place finishes, it has kept overall foreign business decent at a time when moviegoing often lags.

Holdover biz for “Mamma Mia” again provided much of its punch with the second South Korean frame dipping only 10% to $3.4 million to stay in first. In its 10th U.K. weekend, biz stayed sensational with a 25% decline to $1.9 million to hike the Brit cume to $116 million, while German grosses slid only 16% in their ninth frame to $1.1 million for a Teuton total of $34 million.

“Mamma” also launched in first in France with $2.4 million and in Belgium with $1 million. With its exceptional staying power and 15 markets to go, including Italy and Japan, final foreign cume for the Meryl Streep vehicle should top $400 million internationally — a milestone passed by just 31 pics, including “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “The Dark Knight” and “Kung Fu Panda” this year.

By contrast to the U.S. market, which saw a successful influx of new titles, studios opted for the tried-and-true summer hits in foreign multiplexes. And they’ve continued to hold back comedies, which remain a tough sell outside the United States.

“Pineapple Express” scored a first-place finish in the U.K. with a decent $2.5 million launch but has gone into only three markets; “Tropic Thunder” has reached $20 million from 17 markets; and “Step Brothers” has totaled $11.6 million from 10 territories. Two early-summer comedies have posted respectable rather than blockbuster numbers, with “Get Smart” at $91 million from 39 territories and “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” at $82 million in 42 markets.

Other foreign highlights:

n Foreign audiences continue flocking to Will Smith pics. Frame saw Sony’s “Hancock,” which has completed its run in many markets, take $10 million at 1,540. International cume has hit $375 million.

n Angelina Jolie’s “Wanted” hunted down respectable coin with $8.2 million at 1,802 in 34 markets. Universal’s actioner has grossed $158 million overseas, led by $26 million in Russia.

n U continued to scare up biz for “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” with $7.5 million at 4,416. That has pushed offshore biz to $268.5 million — far above the $101 million domestic cume.

n “The Dark Knight” stayed bright for Warner Bros. with $6.7 million at 4,250, lifting the foreign total to nearly $449 million. Combined with $517.7 million domestically, the Batpic is less than $35 million away from joining “Titanic,” the third “The Lord of the Rings” and the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” as the only films to gross $1 billion worldwide.

n Family faves “Wall-E” and “Kung Fu Panda” both drew more than $4 million.

Several niche pics performed well, notably the Spanish soph sesh of Che biopic “The Argentine” with $1.8 million for a $6.1 million cume for Fox. Holocaust drama “Boy in the Striped Pajamas” debuted smartly in the U.K. for Disney with $900,000 at 168 for the best per-location average in the top 10.

Fox also scored impressively in Mexico with its $1.6 million first-place launch of period drama “Arrancame La Vida.” Disney’s “Nonia Para Mi Mujer” led for the fifth straight frame in Argentina with a $4.2 million cume and Warner’s tough-guy drama “Rocknrolla” stayed solid in its second Brit frame with $1.7 million for a $6 million total.

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