‘Eclipse’ casts shadow at overseas B.O.

Pic kicks aside soccer, scares rivals to the sidelines

Despite the World Cup finals last weekend, overseas moviegoers still found time to visit the multiplexes, with several films reaching impressive heights at the international box office.

Summit’s third “Twilight” installment, “Eclipse,” continued its bloody good time at foreign wickets, sinking its teeth into $81.1 million in its soph sesh from a total 62 territories. Pic’s foreign box office receipts now stand at $219 million for a worldwide haul of $463.2 million.

In the U.K., “Eclipse” scored $21 million to become the territory’s highest-grossing 2010 opener, outperforming “New Moon” ($17.9 million) by 17%.

“Eclipse” is one of the summer’s top-grossing entries, with rival studios shying away from the vampire saga. Twentieth Century Fox Intl. decided to postpone its release of “Knight and Day” in Germany until July 22, a week after “Eclipse” bows there.

“Eclipse” already has cast its shadow over most overseas markets, with just 11 more yet to come. Japan is the last major market to get the pic, skedded for release later this year.

On the kid front, Par and DreamWorks Animation continued their long rollout of 3D toon “Shrek Forever After,” which bowed day-and-date overseas in late May. “Shrek” expanded to 41 markets last weekend, earning a boffo $56.4 million on 6,987 screens for an international cume of $209.5 million.

And though Spain played (and won) during the World Cup finals July 11, “Shrek” still tallied an impressive $5.2 million at 626 swamps in the territory. Toon’s weekend take ranked 37% better than “Alice in Wonderland” and 47% ahead of fellow DWA 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon.”

Similar to the franchise’s previous “Shrek” offerings, Par timed its overseas rollout of the latest title to coincide with kids’ summer vacation. Disney did the same with “Toy Story 3,” which earned $36.1 million from 39 territories, down an average 26% in holdover markets. Overseas cume for “Toy 3” now stands at $221.2 million.

“Toy 3” debuted tops in both Japan and Italy. Japan, which reps a sizable gain for the 3D toon because of the territory’s advanced 3D market, played with $10.6 million at 456 locations, making “Toy 3” Disney’s top toon opener in that country. Meanwhile, in Italy, “Toy 3” dominated with 55% of the market’s total business, earning a five-day total of $5 million.

With “Toy 3” and “Shrek” both overperforming in holdover frames as well as debut territories, U decided to delay its launch of 3D toon “Despicable Me” until autumn. Toon still launched in four day-and-date territories, including Russia, where it grossed $3.4 million on 553 screens.

U plans to hold “Despicable” until October in several European markets, such as France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., playing to students on fall break. Australia’s school holiday comes in September.

Also debuting day-and-date, was Fox sci-fi redux “Predators,” in 22 markets. Given competition from the World Cup and the existing holdover might, it was a gamble for the studio, which saw the film earn a so-so $19.4 million on 3,155 planets. Pic performed nicely in the U.K., bowing with $3.3 million, but underperformed in Germany, with $1.2 million. Fox attributed the low turnouts in Germany to auds tuning in to the country’s third-place World Cup match July 10.

According to the studio, the day-and-date launch in Germany was an attempt to decrease risks of piracy, especially given the pic’s targeted young male demo, that would have been increased by a longer rollout.

Fox says the country’s competitive frame also played a role in choosing the pic’s launch date. With “Eclipse” opening next weekend, followed a week later by “Knight and Day” and both “Toy Story 3” and “Inception” on July 29, a Fox Intl. distrib exec describes the date as “taking their lumps with the World Cup.”

“Predators” will expand to most Euro markets over the summer. France and Italy will open the pic this weekend, while Spain is set to get the pic at the end of August.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Clifford Coonan in Beijing, Christian Kohl in Berlin, Lauren Seligman in Paris and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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