'Pirates 3' new overseas champ

Opening weekend claiming record-setting $214 million

A new overseas opening record of $214 million was set by Disney international distributor Buena Vista International as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" blasted off on 17,500 screens in 102 territories over the weekend.

BVI says the weekend total, representing a conventional weekend opening that included territorial debuts from Wednesday to Saturday, beat "Spider-Man 3's" $176.6 million opening earlier this month for the same period. In addition, BVI -- by including Monday's boxoffice take -- contends that "Pirates 3" bested "Spidey 3's" six-day opening figure by 6%, $245 million to $232 million.

There's no dispute that "Pirates 3" set many all-time records in its remarkable takeoff over the weekend, but as is often the case among the major studios seeking top bragging rights for new blockbuster openings, it frequently comes down to a battle of the boxoffice statisticians, with each studio charging the other with comparing apples to oranges.

For example, Sony Pictures Releasing International says that its six-day opening figure for "Spider-Man 3" included only 18 Tuesday bows prior to the official weekend openings, while BVI's tally took in all Monday performances following weekend debuts.

As "Pirates 3" exploded over the weekend, the Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer production came in No. 1 in all 102 opening markets and took a market share of 70% to 85% everywhere, according to BVI. At the same time, "Spidey 3" set all-time opening records in 16 countries, including such key markets as Japan, Spain, Russia, Korea and Holland, and registered 37 million admissions in the foreign market.

Japan, which had a two-day opening, delivered $15.9 million from 883 screens, hailed as the biggest opening for a U.S. film in industry history. The U.K., which opened Friday, earned $26.6 million from 552, called the third-biggest opening ever in the market. France, which opened Wednesday, came up with a five-day total of $17.7 million from 783, the fourth-biggest local opening. Korea supplied its biggest opening ever with $18.4 million from 623 in two days. Italy, with its fourth-biggest bow, came up with $9.6 million in three days. Germany provided $16.8 million in four days from 1,588 screens. Spain, with its biggest opening ever, furnished $11.6 million from 826 in three days. Other big performers included Mexico, with $9.4 million from 1,096 in three days; Australia, $9.9 million from 286 in four days; and Russia, $13.7 million from 700 screens -- the biggest bow ever in the market.

According to BVI, "Pirates 3," in six days, did 70% of the total business of the film in the series, which ended up with $350 million in 2003, and almost 40% of "Pirates 2," which finished with $642 million in 2006.

"With the market share ranging from 70% to 85%, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' has become a worldwide phenomenon and we are excited to be setting a new international boxoffice record," BVI president Anthony Marcoly said.

In face of the onslaught of "Pirates 3," "Spider-Man 3," though dropping about 59% in its fourth offshore weekend, nevertheless lifted its international gross to $500.9 million as it raked in $20.7 million from 11,600 screens in 77 territories.

In India, "Spidey 3" became the market's all-time top-grossing film with $14.3 million, beating "Titanic's" $13.9 million. Sony Pictures Releasing India said that "Spider-Man 3" was released May 4 on 588 prints, with second weekend additions bringing the print count to 597, the highest ever for a foreign film in India. "Pirates 3" opens June 1 in India with about 480 prints dubbed in various local languages.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. and holidays in several European markets, notably the U.K., final rankings and numbers for all films were not completely available Monday.

With pirates and the webslinger dominating overseas markets, Warner Bros. serial killer drama "Zodiac" captured third place in overall weekend business, dropping about 39% with an estimated take of $5.7 million from 1,450 prints in 19 markets.

Complete second weekend results on "Shrek the Third," which opened in Russia, the Ukraine, Romania and the Philippines, were unavailable Monday because Paramount International Pictures headquarters in London was closed due to a bank holiday. The overseas total gross to date is said to stand at about $23 million, with Russia accounting for about $19.5 million of that total after a reported $4.2 million second session.

"Mr. Bean's Holiday" raised its international gross to $178 million after taking in an estimated $1.1 million over the weekend from 2,000 prints in 40 markets. According to Universal Pictures International, the Rowan Atkinson comedy, now in its 10th week of overseas release, remains among the Top 10 on the boxoffice charts in the U.K., Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Argentina. Five more markets are still scheduled to open, including China, Japan and Korea.

20th Century Fox's sci-fi entry "28 Weeks Later" brought in $1.3 million from 749 screens in 11 markets to provide a cume to date of $13.1 million. It entered the U.K. with $900,000 from 390 screens. Fox's comedy "Borat," in a limited 31-screen opening in Japan, tallied $61,000, which helped raise the international cume to $131.9 million.

"Magicians," a British comedy that UPI acquired for eight territories, moved into its second weekend in the U.K., grossing an estimated $270,000 from 230 screens. It held No. 6 on the U.K. chart for the weekend and has a 10-day total of $1.3 million.

"Hot Fuzz" passed the $50 million mark internationally, with new openings coming up in the Czech Republic/Slovakia on June 7 and Germany and Switzerland on June 14.

Nyay Bhushan in New Delhi contributed to this report.
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