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‘Hancock’ exerts its Will overseas

Will Smith tentpole super at foreign B.O.

Underlining Will Smith’s worldwide appeal, Sony’s “Hancock” ruled a robust international box office with a launch weekend of $78.3 million at 5,444 playdates in 50 markets.

“Hancock” notched the year’s third-largest foreign opening after “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Iron Man” — and did so while holding off on launches in key territories such as France, Mexico and Russia, where it opens next weekend. The superhero pic showed socko traction with a $14,400 per-location average.

And overall biz surged thanks to solid perfs in Europe following the conclusion of the four-week Euro Cup soccer tourney — not just from “Hancock” but also from “Kung Fu Panda,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “Wanted,” with the latter three bringing in a combined $80 million overseas.

So far this year, foreign box office for the big six studios has been about even with last year’s record-setting pace, as Fox joined Par this weekend in hitting the $1 billion milestone. Studios had been holding back many tentpoles until this month, waiting for soccer mania to end and school vacations to start, so the coming weeks should see more of the same super-charged biz.

“Hancock” topped internal forecasts, already elevated due to the sterling record of Smith’s previous pics such as “I Am Legend,” which had an international gross of $324 million. Sony noted that “Hancock” beat comparable launches last July in the same markets of “Transformers” ($387 million final foreign gross) and “The Simpsons Movie” ($343 million).

Mark Zucker, president of Sony’s international releasing arm, forecasted “Hancock” will top $300 million offshore by the end of its run.

Best “Hancock” numbers came from the U.K., with $19.3 million, beating “Kung Fu Panda” by 70%; Germany, with $12.4 million for a 61% share; South Korea, with $8.5 million; Australia, with $7.3 million; and China, with $5.5 million in the fourth-biggest opening ever for a Hollywood film. Brazil opened with $3.4 million and Taiwan took in $3.1 million.

Reflecting the strong foreign appeal of CGIanimation, “Kung Fu Panda” led the rest of the pack with an impressive $38 million at 5,448 in 44 markets, including a U.K. launch of $10.7 million and a $3.6 million German opening. Foreign cume’s already hit $151 million, with most of Europe opening in coming weeks, and should finish far past the $160 million international total for Paramount’s previous CG toon, “Bee Movie.”

Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” also expanded as it continued to collect coin from family audiences with $24.3 million at 5,000 in 42 markets, pushing the foreign cume to $194 million. Its $6.3 million Spanish launch outgrossed the next nine films, and its French soph sesh slid only 12% to $5 million.

Universal’s “Wanted,” last weekend’s leader, remained a respectable player from holdover biz with $18.8 million at 2,312 in 23 markets. Thanks to the popularity of director Timur Bekmambetov, Russian biz led the way with $6.5 million for an 11-day cume of $21.7 million — U’s largest gross in that market and the 10th largest of all time.

Disney/Pixar’s “Wall-E,” which has been on a go-slow track offshore, grossed $13 million at 1,645 in nine markets, mostly from its $5.3 million Mexican launch and its $5 million Russian opening in the best Disney animated debuts in those markets. Next key “Wall-E” opening comes in the U.K. on July 18.

U opted to open “Mamma Mia!” two weeks ahead of its domestic debut in two markets — Greece with $1.6 million, tying “Asterix and Obelix” for the best 2008 launch, and at one screen in the U.K. with $240,000 at the Odeon Leicester Square, where it broke the previous record for a musical set by “Chicago.”

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