‘Museum’ critters edge ‘Angels’ overseas

Fox sequel grosses $38.million at box office

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” beat Sony’s international blockbuster “Angels and Demons” at the international box office over the May 29-31 weekend.

“Museum 2” grossed roughly $38.3 million from 9,000 playdates in 100 markets for a foreign cume of $106.8 million in its sophomore sesh. Pic’s domestic total through June 2 was $108.2 million.

“Angels,” which had held at No. 1 for the previous two weekends, grossed $40 million from 10,145 engagements in 100 markets for an international total of $251.7 million, well ahead of its domestic gross of $107.4 million.

Ben Stiller topliner “Museum 2” made big headlines in China, where it grossed $7.4 million from 818 playdates to score Fox its biggest opening ever in that country.

Elsewhere, “Museum 2” saw moderate drops, holding at No. 1 or No. 2. Pic’s strong run in France confirms the enduring star quality of Ben Stiller.

First “Night at the Museum,” released over Christmas 2006, grossed $323.6 million internationally for a worldwide total of $574.8 million. Sequel is unlikely to reach that figure, considering the crowded marketplace.

However, “Museum 2” has a significant advantage at the foreign box office in being the only family tentpole until another Fox title, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which opens date and date July 1.

So far, “Angels and Demons” has grossed the most overseas among the Hollywood tentpoles opening in May. It’s proving especially popular in predominantly Christian countries, in keeping with the performance of “The Da Vinci Code.”

“Angels” held No. 1 in both Italy and Spain. Pic declined a mere 24% in its third frame in Italy, grossing $2.5 million for a $21 million cume. It added an additional $2.3 million in Spain for a $16.2 million total in that territory.

Like “Museum 2,” “Angels” won’t do the amount of business that the original “Da Vinci” did. That film cumed a massive $540.7 million internationally.

Placing No. 3 for the frame at the foreign B.O. was the Japanese pic “Rookies,” the school baseball pic adapted from the hit TV series. Film grossed $12.9 million, enough for distrib Toho to predict a final B.O. tally of $100 million (other box observers place the figure closer to $80 million). Either way, film is on track to become the biggest hit of the year in Japan.

“Rookies,” opening on 428 screens on May 30, drew nearly 400,000 admissions on its first day, with the demo ranging from junior high schoolers to adults in their 20s and 30s, with a strong female contingent.

TV series “Rookies” is based on a comic by Masanori Morita about a gung-ho coach who recruits juvenile delinquents for a baseball team. The comic has sold nearly 20 million copies in paperback editions. The series, which was broadcast on the TBS network from April to June 2008, finished with a high 19.5 rating.

Coming in No. 4 for the frame was “Terminator Salvation,” which Sony is distributing overseas. (Warner Bros. is domestic distrib.) Tentpole grossed $12.1 million for the sesh, including Sony’s $8.6 million at 673 in seven Asian markets and $4.4 million more from the second frame in South Korea.

“T4” will try to make up for a soft domestic performance with its overseas run. Sony was pleased with the initial tally, and was set to take the pic into most major markets on June 5. “Terminator” franchise has always done blockbuster biz overseas.

The two other summer action tentpoles, Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and Paramount’s “Star Trek” came in No. 5 and No. 6 for the weekend.

“Wolverine” offered up $8.1 million from 5,000, including $4.4 million from its delayed Mexican launch. That’s the best opening of the year in that territory. “Wolverine” has cumed $170.1 million, nearly matching the domestic total.

“Star Trek” grossed $8 million at 4,869 locations in 59 territories for a cume of $101.5 million. The sci-fi franchise has never been as popular overseas as it has Stateside.

Placing No. 7 for the sesh internationally was Bong Joon-ho’s Cannes Film Festival entry “Mother,” which topped the Korean box office, grossing $5.2 million from 756 screens for CJ Entertainment. That’s considered especially impressive since the thriller’s rating meant only adults could attend. Film also had to compete with the May 29 funeral service of former president Roh Moo-hyun.

“Mother” was one of the most buzzed about titles and Cannes, and was acquired by Magnolia for U.S. distribution.

Disney-Pixar’s 3-D summer entry “Up,” which likewise made a splash at Cannes, opened domestically over the weekend, but only launched in Russia overseas. Pic grossed an impressive $4.2 million from 560 playdates in that territory. That’s the top launch for any Pixar film in Russia, beating “Wall-E” by 10%. As in the United States, grosses for 3-D pics are boosted by the added charge.

David Hayhurst in Paris, Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Sunhee Han in Seoul, Mark Schilling in Tokyo and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.