Harry's wand conjures $193 mil

Biggest 'Potter' bow helps Warner Bros. to top $1 billion

Warner Bros. International topped $1 billion at the overseas boxoffice as "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" blasted off over the weekend, providing another forceful indicator that the industry may set an all-time record this year in the international market.

Sony Pictures Releasing International reached $1 billion on July 2; Disney's Buena Vista International and 20th Century Fox International are close to the overseas boxoffice benchmark; and Paramount Pictures International, making its debut as a stand-alone foreign distributor, may be a contender for the first time.

Warner Bros.' rise to $1.2 billion came as the fifth "Harry Potter" opened No. 1 in all 44 foreign openings, grossing an eye-opening $193 million from more than 12,200 prints and attracting 31.8 million moviegoers. Warners saluted the weekend as the biggest 'Harry Potter' opening of all time and as the biggest international opening weekend ever for a Warner Bros. film.

With a weekend take of $33.2 million from 1,390 screens, "Phoenix" gave the U.K. its biggest four-day opening of all time. Germany contributed $19.2 million from 1,300 prints; France, $16.5 million from 950; Italy, $11.6 million from 837; and Spain, $10.7 million from 603.

In the Asia/Pacific region, the fifth film adaptation of a J.K. Rowling novel topped the opening boxoffice totals of all previous "Potter" films, according to Warners. Australia took in $14.6 million from 500 prints, and Korea saw $11.4 million from 390.

Latin America also turned out en masse for the latest exploits of the boy wizard. Mexico delivered $10.1 million from 1,030 prints and Brazil supplied $6.5 million from 725.

Russia and Japan come aboard this coming weekend.

Based on "The Order of the Phoenix's" record-breaking opening, indications are that the latest "Potter" installment could emerge as the biggest of all. Previous international boxoffice totals were "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," $657 million; "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," $617 million; "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," $546 million; and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," $606 million.

Adding to the signs of an all-time record year at the overseas boxoffice was the ability of earlier tentpole entries to hold their own as Harry and his friends dominated the weekend market.

Paramount/DreamWorks' "Transformers," with China, Greece and Israel coming aboard, brought in a solid $36 million from 3,661 screens in 30 countries to provide an international gross of $146.5 million. In China, the Michael Bay sci-fi actioner grossed $12.6 million from 300 screens, hailed as the biggest opening gross in the market for a foreign movie.

With "Transformers" still to perform in Japan, the U.K., Germany, France and Mexico, and "Shrek the Third" lifting its international cume to $359.5 million, it appears to give Paramount a chance to submit its application for the industry's billionaire's club.

This past weekend, "Shrek," another Paramount and DreamWorks collaboration, took in $16.5 million from 4,820 screens in 36 countries. No. 2 in its third week in the U.K., "Shrek 3" has grossed $62.2 million to date in that market.

Both of Fox's summer action entries have topped $100 million overseas. "Die Hard 4.0," as the Bruce Willis action sequel "Live Free or Die Hard" is known overseas, recorded $18 million from 5,950 screens in 49 markets to raise its cume to $121.2 million, and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" hoisted its cume to $104.5 million as it surfed to $3.3 million from 2,690 screens in 39 markets.

With "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" moving up to an astronomical $634.1 million by adding another $4 million over the weekend from 3,563 screens in 37 countries, the Disney distributor also guided Pixar's "Ratatouille" to $5.8 million from 1,927 screens for a cume to date of $29.6 million. "Ratatouille," slowly making its way around the globe, is scheduled to open in Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Thailand the weekend of July 27.

Warner Bros. Pictures' Las Vegas-based caper "Ocean's Thirteen" reached $149.6 million after a weekend tally of $4.2 million. Key market cumes to date include the U.K., $25.4 million; Germany, $15.3 million; France, $11.1 million; Spain, $9.9 million; and Australia, $9.8 million.

Universal's "Knocked Up" took in $2.1 million from 223 screens in Australia in its second weekend for a market cume to date of $6.8 million.

In a market where breaking $1 million makes a Canadian film a homegrown hit, the Montreal French-language action film "Nitro" has raked in $2.6 million from 125 Quebec screens in its third week in release.

Cume updates: "Hot Fuzz," $53.7 million; "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $177.2 million; "Zodiac," $46.7 million; "Blades of Glory," $25 million; "Next," $20.3 million; "The Number 23," $39.2 million; "Fracture," $35.9 million; "The Last Mimzy," $3.4 million; and "Little Children," $8.9 million.
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