Overseas auds turn out for ‘Legend’

Will Smith pic grosses almost $400 million

Will Smith starrer “I Am Legend” has grossed $169.3 million at the international box office for a phenomenal worldwide haul of nearly $400 million, but it’s “The Golden Compass” that’s proving to be the real legend overseas.

“Compass” came in second overseas for the weekend of Jan. 4-6, grossing $33 million for a whopping international cume of $228 million in the fantasy pic’s fourth frame. That compares with a far more modest North American gross of $65.7 million.

“Legend” — the market leader for the frame — and “Compass” delivered a one-two punch for a third straight weekend to get international moviegoing in 2008 off on the right foot.

“Legend” stayed solid with $33 million from 3,900 prints in three dozen markets for a beefy $169.3 million foreign cume, while “Compass,” off 7,000 playdates in 59 territories, continued to tally amazing numbers.

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With many markets still on holiday break, overall offshore biz remained robust, with five additional pics — “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Enchanted,” “Bee Movie” and “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem” — topping $13 million apiece.

The top seven films on international screens combined for about $140 million. With the exception of “I Am Legend” and the “AVP” sequel, family fare dominated.

“Legend” debuted impressively in Australia with $8.5 million, more than double the bow of “Alvin,” and stayed sturdy in the U.K. with a 38% decline to $8 million in its second frame for a $37 million Brit cume. “Legend” also dominated in its Greek debut with $1.9 million and in New Zealand with $1.1 million.

The Will Smith starrer has been outperforming similar titles such as “Minority Report” and “I, Robot,” each of which cumed more than $200 million internationally. It should continue to top the foreign charts next weekend as it heads into Germany and Italy.

New Line’s “Compass” remains a paradoxical performer whose B.O. underlines the widespread appeal of fantasy fare outside the U.S. With its fifth-frame foreign grosses coming in at $29 million, it did more than 10 times the pic’s domestic take of $2.7 million over the frame.

For the Jan. 4-6 frame, Disney’s “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” came in third, hunting down $20.3 million at 4,382 in 31 markets, thanks to solid holds in major territories. Russian grosses edged up 1% to $3.1 million in the pic’s second frame, and Japanese biz bumped up 13% to $2 million in its third.

Sequel has cumed $102 million overseas. With openings still coming in France, Germany and the U.K., “Book of Secrets” will top studio expectations and easily surpass the $174 million foreign cume of the original.

Fox’s live-action/CGI hybrid “Alvin” chirped its way to $15.8 million at 4,200 in 49 markets for a $65 million foreign cume, as the comedy continued to generate respectable grosses in its fourth frame, as opposed to its socko Stateside take. Top numbers came from its Oz launch, with $3.5 million; declines in the U.K., Germany, France and Mexico were all at less than 30%.

Worldwide, “Alvin” has grossed $239.7 million.

Disney’s innovative princess tale “Enchanted” placed No. 5 for the Jan. 4-6 frame, conjuring up $14.5 million at 5,370 in 43 markets with average holds of 25% and an international cume of $138 million — $20 million ahead of the domestic total. Brits remained charmed, with $3.1 million in the film’s fourth frame, off 28% for a $28 million cume, while the third French sesh slid just 14% to $2.7 million. Pic has outperformed studio forecasts and appears likely to top $200 million offshore.

Paramount’s “Bee Movie” stayed in flight overseas with $14.3 million at 4,884 in 60 markets, pushing its international cume to $132 million. Best “Bee” number came from a No. 1 launch in South Korea, with $2.7 million.

Fox’s counterprogramming foray with “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem” continued to scare up respectable biz, with $12.5 million at 3,000 in 33 markets for a $37 million foreign cume. Best numbers came from a $3.1 million French launch and a $1.7 million Mexican debut.

Fox’s Russian production “Irony of Fate 2” remained a massive hit in that market, with $9 million on 905, giving the romantic comedy a three-week cume of $23.8 million and putting it at No. 8 internationally for the weekend.

Awards season fare is continuing to expand steadily overseas. Universal’s “American Gangster” gunned $5.5 million at 1,553 in 32 markets, including launches in Argentina and Denmark, for a foreign cume of $72.5 million; Denzel Washington vehicle heads into the U.K. next weekend.