LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After drawing relatively tame box office for nearly two months on the foreign theatrical circuit, “Eat Pray Love” emerged center stage over the weekend, claiming the No. 1 spot, while “Resident Evil: Afterlife” dropped to No. 5 after four consecutive weeks in first place.
“Eat Pray Love,” the romantic drama starring Julia Roberts, collected $17.4 million from 4,280 screens in 56 markets over the weekend. It has rolled up a box-office total of $64.1 million since it opened overseas August 12, and is rapidly closing the gap between its domestic total of more than $80 million. The Sony release scored seven No. 1 market openings over the weekend, the strongest of which was Australia ($3.57 million at 328 locations).
Sony also oversaw weekend overseas openings of “The Social Network,” director David Fincher’s drama about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, at 452 locations in seven markets for $3.2 million, averaging slightly more than $7,000 per screen. Warner Bros. weighed in with “Life As We Know It” in the U.K., where the romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel opened at No. 2.
No. 2 for the weekend overall was Universal’s “Despicable Me,” which garnered $16.6 million from 3,500 venues in 35 territories, hoisting its overseas total to $135.5 million. The family-oriented 3D animation title, voiced principally by Steve Carell, claimed the top spots in France ($5.3 million from 655 sites) and in Spain ($3.1 million from 575).
No. 3 was Warner’s “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” which opened in first place in Mexico and drew $11.3 million overall for the weekend from 4,500 situations in 35 markets. The gross for director Zack Snyder’s animation fantasy stands at $25.8 million. Fourth was director Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” which collected $10.28 million from 3,526 spots in 58 markets, pushing its overseas total to $37.1 million.
Constantin Film’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” which had occupied the No. 1 spot for several rounds, slipped to fifth position with a weekend tally of $8 million, nudging its foreign gross to $198.7 million since opening offshore on September 10. Sony, which is handling the Milla Jovovich action vehicle on 2,640 screens in 45 markets, provided $4.5 million of the weekend total.
Overseas box-office action is generally anemic this time of year, but the six major Hollywood studios are collectively surging to a foreign record in 2010. According to studio figures, the six majors have realized January-September overseas box office of $9.85 billion, an increase of nearly 35 percent from 2009’s nine-month total for the companies. (In calendar year 2009, the studios collectively logged a record $10.7 billion in offshore box office.)
Twentieth Century Fox and Disney each have grossed more than $2 billion overseas so far this year, and Warner Bros. International will do so before the end of December thanks to its release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” beginning in mid-November.
Paramount and Sony have already exceeded the $1 billion foreign box-office mark, while Universal expects to do so by mid-November. Sony exceeded the $1 billion benchmark on October 1. The company logged $1.03 billion through October 3 on the strength of a muscular September on the foreign circuit — $305 million in box office for the month, the best showing among the big six. (September action raised the company’s nine-month box office total to $995.7 million.)
The top studio overseas so far this year is 20th Century Fox, which tallied January-September box office of $2.42 billion, of which $96.3 million was logged in September. Other studios’ respective nine-month totals and September returns: Disney, $2.06 billion and $99.4 million; Warner Bros., $1.9 billion and $175 million; Paramount, $1.59 billion and $83.6 million; and Universal, $882.1 million and $69.4 million.