‘Horton’ thumps overseas competition

Animated pic nabs $13 million in opening frame

American toons remain a boon overseas, with Twentieth Century Fox’s “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” trumpeting its way to No. 1 at the overseas box office over the March 28-30 weekend.

“Horton,” toplining the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, grossed $13 million from 5,879 playdates in 52 markets for a foreign cume of $75.6 million in its third sesh, bringing the film’s worldwide haul to $193.2 through March 30, according to Rentrak.

Film saw its best numbers in its Brit soph sesh with $2 million, its third German frame with $1.6 million and its second Australian weekend with $1.4 million, where it led. In the U.K., “Horton” nevertheless dropped a considerable 68% for a $10.7 million cume.

It was the first weekend “Horton” took lead position at the international box office, edging out Warner Bros.’ Roland Emmerich-directed “10,000 BC,” which came in No. 2 for the March 28-30 frame.

“Horton” is only midway through its overseas run. Last year, three CGI-animated pics — DreamWorks Animation/

Paramount’s “Shrek the Third,” Disney/Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie” — combined for more than $1.2 million overseas. Other past hits include Fox’s “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” which took in more than $450 million internationally, and DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar,” which topped $350 million.

Major markets where “Horton” has yet to make its mark include France — where it opened April 3 — Italy on April 18, South Korea on May 1 and Japan on July 12.

Just as with animated titles, big-budget action-adventures remain nearly a sure bet at the overseas wickets.

In its fourth weekend, “10,000” grossed $12.5 million from 6,000 over the March 28-30 frame for a foreign cume of $143.2 million and worldwide gross of $228.2. Like other recent Emmerich pics, “10,000” has pulled in more internationally than domestically.

For the frame, “10,000” saw a 55% dropoff from Easter weekend — a sign the pic’s run is starting to wind down.

“10,000” just barely beat French box office smash “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” which now stands as the highest earner to ever hit the Gallic box office.

Coming in third for the March 28-30 frame, the pic grossed $12.4 million for the weekend. The Pathe release, down only 42% in its fifth frame, has banked $154 million, with nearly 16.5 million admissions.

Only “Titanic,” “Gone With the Wind” and 1966 local laffer “La Grande vadrouille” have moved more tickets in France. (Total foreign cume for “Ch’tis” is $165 million.)

Paramount’s “The Spiderwick Chronicles” placed No. 4 internationally for the frame, grossing $8.5 million for a foreign cume of $48.8 million and worldwide gross of $118.1 million.

Coming in No. 5 internationally for the frame was sci-fi action-adventure “Jumper,” which grossed $8.1 million for an impressive foreign total of $122.2 million. Pic has cumed $78.4 million Stateside, bringing the worldwide cume to a bouncy $200.6 million.

Europe had no overall box office champ this weekend, as distribs held back their big releases in the traditionally quiet post-Easter frame. The top five territories all had different pics in the No. 1 spot.

Katherine Heigl starrer “27 Dresses” opened tops in the U.K. with $3.5 million at 428 locations, per Rentrak. The romantic comedy released by Fox also posted the weekend’s best location average: $8,126. Result met or exceeded bookers’ reasonably upbeat prerelease expectations.

Predictably, most holdovers fell significantly after the previous weekend’s Easter-aided numbers.

Showing good traction was Universal’s “Step Up 2 the Streets,” which dipped 42% in its soph sesh to dance its way to $11.3 million in 10 days.

In Italy, “The Kite Runner” turned out to be a high flier, with a boffo $3 million bow on 365 in the numero uno spot, double the take of local comedy “Tutta la vita davanti,” which most exhibitors had seen as the frontrunner. The Afghanistan-set epic helmed by Marc Forster reaped the rewards of being based on a bestselling book, and was also helped by a massive marketing campaign from distributor Filmauro that outweighed largely negative Italian reviews.

The sunny Italo frame’s other outings were all flat. Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights” bowed at $254,000 from 133 via BIM Distribuzione, while Yank romancer “Dan in Real Life” did even worse, with $201,000 from 125 via Eagle Pictures.

In Germany, “Jumper,” starring Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Bell, teleported to the top of the charts, grossing $2.5 million to displace local hit “The Wave,” which took in $2.2 million.

Elsewhere at the Teutonic box office, the Mantello brothers’ Imax film “Dolphins and Whales” has become the most successful 3-D docu ever in Germany, grossing $607,000 since its March 13 release.

In Spain, Fox’s sword-and-sandals spoof “Meet the Spartans” battled to glory at the B.O., while holdovers struck out. “Spartans” grossed a pleasing $2.9 million booty from 314, establishing the best screen average of the frame ($9,282). These figures turned Spain into the highest-grossing territory for the Fox spoof.

Archie Thomas in the U.K., Ed Meza in German, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Nick Vivarelli in Italy and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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