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'Airbender,' 'Expendables' fight for o'seas No. 1
Final box office takes still pending

By Frank Segers

August 29, 2010, 05:14 PM ET

Updated: August 31, 2010, 07:11 PM ET

The Last Airbender, The Expendables
"The Last Airbender" (left), "The Expendables"
The weekend's box office winner on the foreign theatrical circuit was too close to call as of Tuesday as "The Expendables" and "The Last Airbender" still appear neck and neck in the race to No. 1.

Final numbers from just about all of its foreign playdates give "Expendables" the edge pending China market returns, which won't surface until early Wednesday morning. As of Tuesday, returns from the 37 "Expendables" markets in Europe, Asia and South America total an estimated $17.2 million from 3,649 screens.

If China throws off a weekend tally of more than $4 million, "Expendables" would clinch its second stanza on top of the foreign theatrical heap. Opening China round last weekend threw off a giant $10.7 million.

The Milennium Films /Nu Image Films super-octane action vehicle directed by and costarring Sylvester Stallone, with Jason Stratham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke, opened in Germany, Norway and Thailand in the latest round.

"Expendables'" No. 3 Germany bow via local distributor Splendid produced $2.9 million from 531 sites while a No. 1 Austria debut via Centfox captured $501,032 from 68 spots. Second weekend in the U.K. via Lionsgate saw the action title dropping to fourth place with $2 million drawn from 453 sites for a market cume of $10.5 million.

"The Expendables'" Japan opening via Pony Canyon is scheduled for Oct. 16. The film's international cume so far is an estimated $80 million.

Weekend take for director M. Night Shyamalan's 3D adaptation of the Nickelodeon TV series came to $20.27 million ($2.3 million more than previously projected) from a total of 4,995 venues in 45 markets for an overseas total of $122.2 million grossed since July 8. Paramount's "Airbender" opened No. 1 in Mexico ($3.6 million from 713 spots) while its first China round points to $2.6 million from 1,500 locations.

Otherwise, the generally sluggish, late-summer weekend's notable development was 20th Century Fox's overseas introduction of a "special edition" of "Avatar" at 1,046 screens in 14 markets for a gross of $4.26 million.

That was more than enough to push director James Cameron's scifi blockbuster past the $2 billion foreign-gross mark (offshore cume stands at slightly more than $2.002 billion). The fresh "special edition" performed best in Russia, claiming the No. 2 spot with $1.23 million derived from 313 sites for a market cume (including initial run) of $117.4 million.

Universal kicked off its five-month foreign campaign for "Charlie St. Cloud" in Russia, Croatia and Trinidad for a weekend tally of $300,413 from 256 sites. Early overseas returns total $326,135 for the fantasy-drama starring Zac Efron.

Paramount commenced its offshore run of "Dinner For Schmucks," the comedy costarring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, in the Netherlands for $298,321 derived from 49 screens. Fox opened "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" in the No. 11 spot in the U.K. with $1 million drawn from 375 locations.

The weekend's probable No. 3 is Warner Bros.' "Inception," which collected $17 million – nearly $2 million more than the figure provided Sunday -- from 5,870 locations in 63 markets. Overseas cume for director Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio comes to $387 million.

Sony's "Salt" opened No. 1 in France ($3.9 million from 542 locations) and Poland, and claimed $15.5 on the weekend from 4,278 situations in 63 markets. The Cold War drama starring Angelina Jolie film was also No. 1 in its second rounds in Australia and New Zealand with a combined $2.5 million from 440 screens. Overseas cume stands at $130.8 million. The film looks to wind up No. 4 on the weekend.

Now in its 11th round on the foreign circuit, "Toy Story 3" in 3D actually picked up a bit from its prior round -- grossing $13.1 million from 4,575 venues in 41 markets for an overseas cume of $606.1 million. It ranks a probable No. 5 on the weekend.

The Pixar/Disney release is now the fourteenth film in industry history to surpass the $600 million foreign gross mark. "Toy Story 3" is also, said Disney, the first animation title ever to cross the $1 billion gross mark worldwide (global cume is just shy of $1.012 billion).

Since it opened June 9 on the foreign circuit, Sony's "The Karate Kid" has grossed a total of $142.3 million. Weekend action -- including No. 1 openings in Spain ($4.7 million from 494 spots) and Brazil ($2.3 million from 378 sites) -- came to $12.8 million from 3,700 situations in 38 territories.

Summit/Universal's "Step Up 3D" was active in 30 territories, and generated $11.6 million on the weekend from 2,657 sites. A No. 1 Germany debut provided $3.67 million from 525 conventional and 3D venues while a No. 2 Austria opening drew $500,000 from 68 spots. Overseas cume for the third installment of the urban dance franchise stands at $72.9 million.

After more than three months playing the foreign circuit, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's "Shrek Forever After" in 3D is still generating decent foreign numbers, $11.7 million in its latest round at 3,171 venues in 61 markets. Cume stands at $470.6 million.

Opening in seven markets Dimension Films/The Weinstein Co.'s horror title "Piranha 3D" drew $8.1 million in its second weekend on the international circuit, raising its early overseas cume to $12.3 million. Biggest contributor was Russia where the film premiered with $3.2 million from 400 locations.

Sony's "Grownups" emerged as the weekend's No. 1 title in the U.K. ($3.1 million from 401 locations), the market's biggest opening weekend for an Adam Sandler comedy. Overall, the film grabbed $7.8 million from 2,192 screens in 49 markets. Overseas cume stands at $69.9 million.

"Sorcerer's Apprentice" delivered $6.2 million from 3,117 prints in 41 markets, pushing the cume for the Jerry Bruckheimer production starring Nicolas Cage to $103.2 million from about 70% of the overseas marketplace, as per distributor Disney. Warner's "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" drew an estimated $4.7 million from 4,045 screens in 49 markets for a foreign cume of $44.1 million.

Universal's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" premiered No. 2 in the U.K. ($2.5 million from 408 dates) with the full weekend generating $3.2 million from 914 sites in four markets for an early overseas cume of $6.1 million. Fox's sci-fi action title, "Predators," delivered $3.1 million from 1,453 situations in 28 markets for an overseas total gross of $68.7 million. And Fox's horror spoof "Vampires Suck" grossed $2.1 million from 477 situations in 14 markets for an international cume of $3.1 million.

Taking first place in Japan for the second consecutive weekend was Tokyo Broadcasting System/Toho's "Hana Mizuki – May Your Love Bloom for a Hundred Years." The melodrama about teenagers in love generated $3.8 million from 310 screens for a market cume of $15 million.

Regaining the No. 1 spot in South Korea was C.J. Entertainment's release of "The Man From Nowhere," director Jeong-beom Lee's local-language crime thriller. Fourth round drew $3.4 million from 450 sites for a market cume of $28.4 million.

Top grossing local-language newcomer in France was "Le bruit des glacons" ("The Sound of Ice"), director Bertrand Blier's black comedy about an alcoholic writer visited by the incarnation of his own cancer. The Wild Bunch Distribution release, which premiered this year's in the Venice Days section of the 47th Venice Film Festival, drew $1.8 million from 302 screens, opening No. 5 in the market.

Other international cumes: DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's "How to Train Your Dragon," $273.9 million; Fox's "Knight and Day," $151.3 million; Universal's "Despicable Me," $69.6 million (after a $2.8 million weekend from 1,268 screens in 26 markets); Fox's "The A-Team," $95.53 million ; Universal's "Get Him to the Greek," $23 million; Fox's "Marmaduke," $41.3 million (due to a $2 million weekend at 1,200 situations in 13 territories); and Universal's "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang," $63.3 million.

Also, Universal's "Repo Men," $4.7 million; Fuji TV/Toho's "Bayside Shakedown 3: Set the Guys Loose," $80.6 million over nine frames in Japan only; Universal's "Robin Hood," $205.6 million; Studio Canal/Universal's "Sammy's Adventures: The Secret Passage," $8.1 million from France and The Netherlands only; Universal's "Hanni und Nanni," $6.1 million from Germany and Austria only; and Lionsgate's "The Killers," estimated $40.5 million.

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