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Disney’s “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” graduated with honors at the weekend’s foreign box office in a dominant launch with a socko $40 million at 3,090 playdates in 22 markets.

“HSM3” finished first in every territory, averaged a stellar $12,945 per location and posted the biggest international total for a frame since “The Dark Knight” grossed $42 million in mid-August. The frame also marked the first time in three months that the foreign winner has matched the domestic winner, a feat last accomplished by “Dark Knight.”

The impressive start portends a potentially lucrative overseas run for the feel-good musical — particularly given the massive foreign success for “Mamma Mia!,” which took another $4 million over the weekend to pass $408 million offshore.

“HSM3” took in more than the combined international grosses of the frame’s next four finishers: “Burn After Reading,” “Max Payne,” “Eagle Eye” and “Saw V.”

While “HSM3” opened in nearly all major Euro markets, “Saw V” saw $6.1 million at 940 as distribs limited launches to nine territories. Nearly two-thirds of that came from the scarefest’s $3.8 million Brit debut at 367; its Venezuelan debut of $260,000 outgrossed the combined total of the next seven pics in that market.

But “HSM3” ruled, with its U.K. launch more than quadruple the take of “Saw V” with $13.5 million. And on the Continent, audiences flocked to the tuner, which raked in $6 million in Germany, $5 million in Spain, $4.3 million in France, $3.7 million in Scandinavia and $1 million in Poland. The musical’s $1.7 million Brazilian opening represented Disney’s fifth biggest launch ever in that market.

The “HSM3” foreign debuts generally doubled the haul last year of Disney’s princess pic “Enchanted,” which showed solid traction overseas with $212 million.

The strong start signals that international moviegoing could kick into high gear during the final two months of 2008. A pair of potential blockbusters — “Quantum of Solace” and “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” — will open in several major markets next weekend before going wide the following frame.

“Burn After Reading” finished the best of the rest with $9 million at 1,900 in 20 markets to lift foreign cume to $48 million while still early in its foreign run. The Coen brothers comedy looks likely to see its offshore performance finish well above its domestic total, currently at $58 million.

A pair of actioners also shot up notable biz, with Fox’s “Max Payne” gunning down $8.7 million at 2,400 in 44 markets, led by a $3.5 million Russian launch, and Paramount’s “Eagle Eye” taking $7 million at 3,108 in 54 territories.

Par’s “Tropic Thunder,” nearing the end of its run, grossed $4.4 million at 1,620 in 54 markets for an international cume of $66 million — $44 million short of the domestic total and a typically moderate offshore performance for an American comedy.

Warner Bros. continued to see modest results for “Body of Lies” with $2.1 million at 737 in nine markets — half of that from its $1.16 million South Korean debut, second behind local entry “My Wife Got Married.” “Lies” has cumed $9 million, led by $3.7 million in Australia, and won’t move into major European markets for two more weeks.