‘Transformers’ tops b.o. before big bow

Limited release grosses $19.6 internationally

Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” turned in a stellar limited foreign bow over the June 19-21 frame, grossing $19.6 million from the U.K. and Japan to top the international B.O. chart.

Pic grossed $14.1 million at 517 locations in the U.K. That’s 71% ahead of the first “Transformers,” and within 3% of the opening of summer 2008 blockbuster “The Dark Knight.”

“Transformers 2,” which reteams director Michael Bay with thesps Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, opened day and day nearly everywhere else on June 24. Pic could easily become the biggest summer play overseas if it does anywhere near the business that the first “Transformers” enjoyed in 2007 ($389 million in foreign grosses).

However, “Transformers 2” wasn’t the only surprisingly fit player over the weekend.

Warner Bros.’ surprise hit “The Hangover” did enough biz to place No. 3 internationally in its third sesh, grossing $11.6 million from 1,900 runs in 25 markets. That brought the foreign cume to $30.3 million. Domestic gross through June 21 was $152.8 million for a worldwide tally of $183.1 million.

American comedies are a tough sell overseas, although there are exceptions. In Italy, “Hangover” did moderate biz, grossing $902,000 off 292.

“Hangover” did just enough to beat out 20th Century Fox’s family favorite “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which placed No. 4, grossing $11.5 million from 7,223 runs in 68 countries for a foreign cume of $193.6 million in its fifth frame.

“Museum 2” has appealed even more to families overseas than Stateside, where it grossed $156.5 million, for a foreign cume of $350.1 million.

Placing No. 5 for the weekend was Disney’s Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal,” which debuted to $10 million from 1,390 playdates in 10 territories. Romantic comedy made a surprisingly strong showing and underscores Bullock’s continuing popularity overseas.

Opening take of $10 million was led by Australia at $3.3 million from 275, followed by Russia at $2.8 million from 400 screens.

“Proposal” opened well ahead of comedies including “Two Weeks Notice” (also starring Bullock), “He’s Just Not that Into You” and “The Break Up.”

Bowing domestically over the same frame, “Proposal” grossed a boffo $33.6 million, the best-ever opening gross for Bullock.

The box office was resting up in the lull before the “Transformers” storm, as moviegoing was down across Europe.

In Italy “Coraline” took the top spot with 3-D screens accounting for 62% of the Henry Selick-helmed pic’s $1.3 million take. The Focus Features stop-motion 3-D fantasy fable launched late in Italy on 205, scoring its highest per-screen average — $6,318 — in a frame that was up 43% compared with the previous weekend.

As for holdovers, local laffer “Un estate ai Caraibi” (A Summer in the Caribbean) is showing staying power dropping just 14% in its second frame for $1.1 million, albeit off a massive 550 via Medusa. “Caribbean,” an attempt to counter Hollywood blockbuster dominance in summer with a commercial local title is proving a viable proposition with a $3.1 million cume to date.

In Germany, Russell Crowe starrer “State of Play” was no match for the power of “Angels and Demons,” which again topped the German box office, adding $1.5 million to its $43 million cume in its sixth frame. “Angels'” foreign cume through June 21 was $330.9 million — the best gross of the year. Film’s worldwide tally is $459.1 million.

Universal’s “State of Play” opened with $1.4 million from 324. Overall, the German box office dropped 33% compared to the previous week.

Hot weather in Spain dampened theater traffic, with Tripictures’ “Inkheart” grossing $1 million from 319 locations. After four weeks of placing No. 1, Vertigo’s “Millennium” dropped to No. 2 for a boffo cume of $6.8 million.

David Hayhurst in Paris, Ed Meza in Berlin, Emilio Mayorga in Madrid and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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