'Avatar' passes 'Titanic's' overseas record

9:19 AM PST 01/24/2010 by Frank Segers, AP

Sci-fi epic's international boxoffice reaches $1.288 billion

One boxoffice record down. Two to go.

After six rounds on the foreign circuit, "Avatar" on the weekend became the biggest-grossing offshore title in movie history.

The James Cameron mega-budget blockbuster rolled up an overseas cume through Sunday of $1.288 billion, exceeding by $46 million "Titanic's" 13-year international boxoffice record of $1.242 billion. The record actually fell Saturday, as predicted.

The latest No. 1 weekend tally was $107 million grossed from 11,800 screens in 111 markets. It was the sixth consecutive weekend that "Avatar" grossed more than $100 million on the foreign circuit.

Among the key territories on the weekend were: France (cume $123.3 million), Germany ($95.7 million), the U.K. ($92.9 million), South Korea ($79.5 million), Japan ($77.7 million), Australia ($77.1 million) and Spain ($76 million). "Avatar" is now the biggest grossing film of all time in China, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong and Chile. It is the biggest Hollywood film ever to play in India.

Still to be broken are "Titanic's" domestic boxoffice record ($600.8 million) and its worldwide cume ($1.843 billion). "Avatar" has grossed $552.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $1.8408 billion globally. Given "Avatar's" current boxoffice pace, it should beat "Titanic's" worldwide record early this week.

The latest gross numbers underscore yet again the importance of the foreign circuit playoff to "Avatar's" success. Nearly 70% of the film's worldwide revenues come from overseas. That's about the same as the 67% slice of "Titanic's" worldwide total gross that originated abroad.

Peculiar to "Avatar's" success is the latest wave of exhibition technology. At least 65% of its overseas boxoffice and nearly 80% of its domestic earnings derive from 3D venues, which charge the equivalent of several dollars more than conventional theatrical sites. IMAX locations worldwide playing "Avatar" have rolled up $134 million in 38 days at ticket prices at about $15 each.

Big contributors to "Avatar's" foreign success are China and Russia, two key territories that were not significant boxoffice factors when "Titanic" played overseas. On the weekend, "Avatar" secured $11.8 million in China, boosting the market cume to $102.3 million. In Russia, the weekend tally was $3.9 million for a market cume of $95.4 million.

Then there is the inflation factor. According to a formula developed by the department of U.S. Labor Statistics, "Titanic's" 1997 worldwide gross is currently worth at least $2.5 billion on an inflation adjusted basis, or $805 million domestic and $1.664 billion foreign.

Still champ is "Gone with the Wind," which grossed $400 million worldwide in 1939, now worth at least $6 billion in today's dollars.

Otherwise, the weekend lineup of the top five films overseas remained constant. Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes" from director Guy Ritchie stayed No. 2 with $17.1 million from 5,048 screens in 55 markets for a cume of $196.5 million. In third place was Fox's family-oriented "Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel," which garnered $11.6 million from 5,017 screens in 60 markets for a foreign cume of $175 million.



Thanks to openings in 17 territories, Paramount's "Up in the Air," director Jason Reitman's comedy/drama with George Clooney, emerged No. 4 with $11 million derived from 2,117 spots in 26 markets for an early cume of $19.5 million. Fifth was "It's Complicated," Universal's romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, which bagged $10.5 million from 2,900 situations in 32 territories for a cume of $50.5 million.

"Tooth Fairy," Fox's comic fantasy starring Dwayne Johnson, scored $7.4 million from 1,771 screens in 16 markets in its second weekend overseas for a cume of $16 million. Warner's "Invictus" from director Clint Eastwood drew $7.1 million from 1,115 screens for a cume of $17.2 million. Sony's "Did You hear About the Morgans?" costarring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker realized $5.6 million from 2,220 screens in 29 territories for a cume of $31 million.

"Legion," director Scott Stewart's action fantasy with Dennis Quaid, which opened at No. 2 domestically, opened via Sony in Malaysia and Singapore, where the Screen Gems production ranked No. 1, and in the Philippines, where it debuted at No. 2. Total weekend gross was $1.1 million from 150 screens.

Summit International's "The Book of Eli," the post apocalyptic drama Starring Denzel Washington, drew an estimated $4.3 million from 1,376 screens in four markets for a very early cume of $10 million.

Premiering No. 9 in Australia was Sony's release of the Weinstein Co.'s "Nine," director Rob Marshall's musical adaptation of Fellini's "8 ½." Opening tally was $735,000 from 133 screens. "Nine's" foreign cume so far from all distributors stands at an estimated $11 million since opening overseas on Dec. 18. Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" pushed its overseas cume to $67.3 million thanks to a $3 million weekend from 2,725 locations in 28 territories for a cume of $67.3 million.

In France, "Serge Gainsbourg, vie heroique" (Serge Gainsbourg, Heroique Life), Universal's release of a local production, opened No. 3 in the market with an estimated $3.7 million derived from 499 locations. Director Joann Sfar's biopic of French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg attained recent notoriety after lead actress Lucy Gordon, a 28-year-old former British model, committed suicide in her Paris flat.

In its second weekend in Germany and Austria, Sony's "Friendship!" drew a combined $3.1 million from 481 screens for a two-market cume of $7.8 million. Director Markus Goller's local language title (produced by Deutsche Columbia Pictures) is a drama about a young East German man searching the U.S. for his missing father.

Other international cumes: Disney's "Surrogates," $78.3 million (thanks to a $3.7 million weekend at 500 screens in five markets); Fox's "(500) Days of Summer," $27.2 million; Universal's "Couples Retreat," $57.1 million; Disney's "Old Dogs," $36.3 million (with the U.K. and Brazil yet to play); Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $89.4 million; and DreamWorks/Paramount's "The Lovely Bones," $7.6 million (from Australia and New Zealand over five frames).

Also, UGC Distribution's "Une petite zone de turbulences," $3.2 million (over two frames in France only); Universal's "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," $14.6 million; EuropaCorp.'s "Le Siffleur" (The Whistler), $3.4 million (three rounds in France only); and Paramount's "Celda 221," $15.2 million (over 12 rounds in Spain only).
comments powered by Disqus