'Pirates' bows strong across globe

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Walt Disney Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" mopped up internationally in its opening frame, grossing an estimated $205.5 million from 17,500 screens in 102 territories, and setting an industry record for a traditional bow overseas.

So dominant was "At World's End" that it finished No. 1 everywhere, hauling in a 70% to 85% market share in each of the 102 territories where it played. It began its graduated opening on Wednesday in a handful of territories, and then broadened its surge through the weekend.

"We had a traditional opening," says Anthony Marcoly, president of Buena Vista International (BVI), which handles Disney films overseas. "We didn't open this thing up in advance in any territory."

By contrast, Sony's "Spider-Man 3" bowed in 18 markets on a Tuesday (May 1), grossing $231 million over its six-day opening blast. But on a five-day basis, noted Marcoly, the comparable "Spidey 3" figure was $176.6 million.

BVI structured the "At World's End' overseas release on the assumption that there would be "a high demand to see this movie," says Marcoly. But, "this number, the $205.5 million, even exceeded our most optimistic expectations."

The BVI president describes reviews for "At World's End" overseas as "mixed to positive," slightly better than the generally downbeat notices it received domestically. Marcoly adds that given the size of the film's opening internationally, "I think if we can keep our (boxoffice) fall-off next weekend to anything less than 50%, we would be extremely happy."

As for the prospects for another sequel in the "Pirates" series, Marcoly says that "it's too early to say. We are very hopeful that there will be another one."

"At World's End" has already grossed nearly 60% of the total international take ($350 million) of the original "Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which is 2003's biggest hit worldwide on a calendar basis. The opening tally is 32% of the total overseas tally ($642 million) of the second in the series, last year's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

"At World's End" became the 21st film ever released by BVI to cross the $200 million in foreign boxoffice, and the 54th title to gross more than $100 million abroad. It also set a new BVI record for the largest single-day take overseas -- $64.8 million on Saturday.

Worldwide, the third "Pirates" edition grossed $332 million through Sunday. The frame's No. 2 title, Sony's "Spider-Man 3," has a worldwide gross tally of $802.4 million accumulated over four weekends.

Biggest markets for "At World's End" were the U.K. (an estimated $25.8 million from 1,250 screens), Germany ($16.9 million from 1,585 sites), France ($16.7 million from 620 locations) and Japan ($15.7 million from 883 situations). Opening records were set in Korea (an estimated $19.6 million from 623 locations) and Russia ($13.7 million from 700 spots).

Regionally in Latin America -- representing 2,667 screens in 18 territories -- the tally was an estimated $21.3 million, about 30% more than the comparable gross of "Dead Man's Chest."

"Spider-Man 3" grossed an estimated $19.1 -- down from $50.8 million last week -- from 11,600 screens in 77 markets in its fourth weekend, lifting its international gross total to $499.1 million.

Although falloffs from last weekend range from 46% in India to 81% in Germany, "Spider-Man 3" remains the No. 1 film all time in Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Ecuador.

On a gross volume basis, the U.K. remains "Spidey 3"s" biggest market. Throwing off an estimated $2.1 million from 769 screens for a market cume of $60.5 million. In France, the weekend tally was $2 million from 866 sites, for a cume of $49.6 million. In Brazil, the take was $1.4 million from 700 screens for a cume of $21.6 million.

Tied for third place this weekend are DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International's "Shrek The Third" (an estimated $5 million from 443 screens in four markets), and Warner Bros. International's "Zodiac" ($5 million from 1,450 sites in 19 territories).

"Zodiac," a crime thriller from director David Fincher," is holding reasonably well given the "At World's End" and "Spidey 3" onslaughts, and has reached an overseas cume to date of $ 17.3 million. Biggest is France where "Zodiac" ranks No. 3 with a weekend estimate of $1.3 million from 376 situations for a market cume of $5.2 million.

"Shrek The Third" is just beginning its international rollout, which won't click into high gear until next month. The four opening territories, The Philippines, Romania, Russia and Ukraine, were chosen "due to holidays and to lesson the piracy impact from these markets," according to PPI.

Biggest market for �Shrek The Third" in its second weekend was Russia where it garnered an animated $4.2 million from 263 screens for a market cume of $19.5 million. The overseas total gross to date stands at $23 million, $224.4 million worldwide.

Tied for fourth place was Universal International's "Mr. Bean's Holiday," which managed an estimated $1.1 million from 2,000 screens in 40 territories, hiking its overseas boxoffice total to $178 million.

The Rowan Atkinson comedy generally drew solid matinees business on Saturday, and remained among the top 10 grossers in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Argentina. There are five overseas markets still to go for this title including China, Japan and Korea. It bows Aug. 31 in the U.S.

Twentieth Century Fox International/Fox Atomic's "28 Weeks Later" also grabbed an estimated $1.1 million from 545 screens in two markets. The sci-fi/thriller's international cume to date stands at $13 million.

Universal International's is handling "Magician," a British-made comedy about rival stage magicians, in eight territories. In its second weekend in the U.K., the gross was an estimated $270,000 from 230 screens, for a 10-day total of $1.3 million.

Other overseas cume updates: Universal's "Hot Fuzz," $50 million; Fox's "Borat," $132 million (thanks to a $63,000 opening weekend in Japan at 31 screens); PPI's "Shooter," $43 million; WBI's "300," $232.2 million; and PPI's "Blades of Glory," $16.2 million).
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