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'Avatar' still dominating overseas boxoffice

Sci-fi epic has earned $915 million in international markets

Now the second-highest-grossing title ever worldwide, "Avatar" wound down a month of total foreign theatrical domination on the weekend with a boxoffice tally of $151 million – $8 million more than was reported Sunday and a 10% increase from the prior weekend -- from 15,301 screens in 111 markets.
 
"Avatar's" overseas cume of $915 million significantly outpaces comparable domestic action, more than double its $430.7 million domestic take in the U.S. and Canada.
 
In addition, director James Cameron's mega-budget, 3D epic is approaching the $1.242 billion overseas boxoffice record established by the director's 1997 smash "Titanic."
 
Distributor 20th Century Fox said that at "Avatar's" current torrid overseas boxoffice pace, the film will "cross the $1 billion (offshore) barrier by Thursday or Friday of this week, with 'Titanic's' 13-year record cume in its sights."
 
Worldwide, the boxoffice total for James Cameron's sci-fi epic is now $1.346 billion, $497 million behind the $1.843 billion all-time worldwide record set by "Titanic."
 
Maintaining a blazing pace on the overseas circuit -- grossing an average of nearly $28 million per day from last Monday through Wednesday, the slowest days of the week -- "Avatar" added a record-setting opening week in China to its offshore boxoffice luster.
 
An opening seven-day surge there generated a whopping $41.4 million from 2,474 screens, which Fox called the market's biggest opening-week gross ever. The Saturday tally in China came to $8.3 million, a single-day market record.
 
In France, the latest round realized $12.6 million from 1,111 sites, with the market cume topping the $100 million mark ($101.4 million), the first offshore territory to do so. Russia weighed in with $11.1 million from 927 sites for a market cume of $78.4 million. Germany generated $9.8 million from 994 screens for a cume of $73.4 million.
 
The U.K. cume stands at $67 million thanks to a $7.75 million weekend from 854 locations. (Severe winter weather in the U.K. inhibited boxoffice generally in the market.) Other big market cumes include Australia ($57.9 million), Spain ($60.1 million), South Korea ($54.7 million) and Japan ($50.8 million). An Italy opening begins Friday.
 
Because of its uniquely must-see-in-digital-3D factor, "Avatar" is drawing the vast majority of its overseas boxoffice from 3D venues, which charge higher admission prices. Through its third weekend, per Fox, conventional 2D sites generated 36% of the film's overseas gross total, while 3D locations produced a full 64%.
 
By comparison, 2009's biggest overseas grosser, Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which was also released in 3D, drew only 41% of its $691.2 million offshore take from 3D venues.
 


"Up," the Pixar 3D animation feature and Disney's top-grossing release of 2009, realized 44% of its $430.4 million overseas cume from 3D venues vs. 56% derived from 2D sites. ("Up" is still playing in Japan, where the market cume through the weekend stands at $46.6 million.)
 
Imax Corp. reported that "Avatar" grossed $4.6 million from overseas Imax theaters on the weekend, up 13% from the prior round. The company described action at its China sites as "staggering and record-breaking. In fact, in a great part due to China, Saturday was the single biggest international day in Imax history with $1.65 million" in grosses.
 
There are a total of 179 Imax venues playing "Avatar" in the U.S. and Canada and another 82 sites overseas.
 
Worldwide cume for "Avatar" from Imax venues is about $91 million as of Sunday night, with the $100 million mark to be passed this week, per Imax. This would "be a first for us for a Hollywood feature."
 
Warner Bros.' release of "Sherlock Holmes," director Guy Ritchie's version of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective fiction, finished a distant second on the weekend with $26.9 million derived from 5,380 screens in 45 territories. The film, co-starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, has accumulated $131.3 million overseas thus far, with $25.1 million coming from the U.K., $24.3 million from Italy and $16.4 million from Australia.
 
Finishing third on the weekend was Fox's family-oriented "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," which lured $21.8 million from 6,248 screens in 56 territories for an overseas cume of $136.2 million and a worldwide total of $314.3 million. A No. 1 Brazil opening provided a lusty $3.5 million from 298 locations for a per-screen average of $11,745.
 
No. 4 was Sony's romantic comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" which showed boxoffice traction overseas with an $8.2 million weekend from 1,887 screens in 18 markets for an early foreign cume of $15.5 million. The Hugh Grant-Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle opened in at least 10 territories, with a No. 2 bow in Germany leading the pack ($2.25 million from 500 sites).
 
Finishing fifth was Universal's "It's Complicated," writer-director Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, which generated $7.8 million from 1,760 situations in 17 markets, raising its overseas take to $23.3. A strong Australia opening provided $3.1 million from 304 sites.
 
Making a big Italy splash was Warner Bros.' local-language production "Io, loro e Lara" (I, They and Lara), director Carlo Verdone's ensemble comedy about a missionary priest and his family. The film opened at No. 1 in the market, grossing $7.1 million from 670 screens on the weekend. The full opening Italy launch produced $12.4 million.

Boosting its international cume to $55.1 million was Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," which collected $5.6 million on the weekend from 3,187 screens in 25 territories. A Poland opening is due in the upcoming weekend, to be followed by openings in France and the U.K. on Jan. 27 and 29, respectively.

"Black Lightning," Universal's co-production with Russian producer-director Timur Bekmambetov, continues strongly in Russia. Second weekend tally was $4.5 million from 698 sites, down just 31% from the opening round, for an 11-day market cume of $17.3 million. Overall, the action fantasy drew $4.9 million on the weekend from 815 sites in seven markets. International cume stands at $18.3 million.



Less impressive on the market-specific co-production front was the Germany opening of "13 Semester," Fox's local-language romantic comedy from director Frieder Wittch, which drew $552,455 from 150 screens and a No. 7 market ranking.

Opening in four territories -- including the U.K., where it finished at No. 5 with $2.2 million from 378 locations -- was Mandate International's "Daybreakers," a horror/sci-fi title starring Ethan Hawke, which drew an estimated $3.5 million from a total of 640 screens. Disney's "Old Dogs," co-starring John Travolta and Robin Williams, raised its cume to $29.5 million thanks to a $2.4 million weekend from 952 locations in 15markets.

The Coen brothers' "A Serious Man," from Focus Features/Universal, has rolled up a worldwide cume of $18.4 million of which $9.1 million stems from overseas play. The Weinstein Co.'s "Nine" has been out for a month overseas and has accumulated $7.9 million thus far from dates in the U.K., South Korea, Greece and Israel.
 
In France, newcomer "Le Siffleur" (The Whistler), director Philipp Lefebvre's crime caper set in Cannes, opened at No. 2 in the market with an estimated $1.2 million drawn from 275 screens.
 
Other international cumes: Paramount's "The Lovely Bones," $5.4 million (from Australia and New Zealand only); "Disney's A Christmas Carol," $185.4 million; Fox's "Amelia," $5 million; Universal's "Couples Retreat," $55.1 million; Warner's "Zweiohrkuken," $42.3 million (Germany and Austria only); Sony's "2012," $600.1 million; EuropaCorp. Distribution's "Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard," $32.5 million (over six rounds, France only); Focus Features' "Love Happens," $10 million; Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $86.5 million; "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," $32.8 million via various distributors; Disney's "Surrogates," $73 million; and Focus Features/Universal's "9," $16.2 million.

Also, La Pacte's "Rec 2," $3.5 million (over three rounds, France only); Sony's "Michael Jackson's This Is It," $185.6 million; Paramount's "Law Abiding Citizen," $10.2 million; Sony's "Julie & Julia," $35.8 million; Paramount's "An Education," $2 million; The Weinstein Co./Universal's "Inglourious Basterds," $199 million; Fox's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," $17.3 million; Universal's "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," $13.4 million; Paramount's "Capitalism: A Love Story," $1.5 million; Sony's "Zombieland," $24.3 million; Fox's "(500) Days of Summer," $26.1 million; Disney's "Surrogates," $73 million; Universal's "Public Enemies," $117 million; and Paramount's "Celda 221," $14.5 million over 10 frames, Spain only).