'300' takeoff augurs hot '07 b.o.
Greek epic pulls in strong $6.5 million from 5 small marketsAs the MPAA officially trumpet- ed the rebound of the international boxoffice in 2006, the first three months of this year continue to show signs that 2007 may well keep up the trend and turn out to be one of the best in industry history.
Warner Bros.' "300," the Zach Snyder-directed epic, which opened in five small markets over the weekend, displayed the opening clout indicative of a high-scoring contributor to this year's record-setting potential. The violent depiction of the 5th century B.C. battle of Thermopylae brought in $6.5 million, with each of the markets greeting the epic film at the top of the boxoffice chart. Greece was the No. 1 supporter of the film about its ancient history, shelling out $3.1 million from 138 prints for what is said to be the biggest opening in the country's history. According to Warner Bros., it exceeded the opening of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which it said went out with 100 more prints.
Taiwan greeted the Spartan-Persian battle with $1.5 million from 81 prints nationwide, while the Philippines registered $750,000 from 49; Singapore, $646,000 from 29; and Malaysia, $80,000 from 56.
Korea receives "300" this coming weekend, followed the week after by France, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Mexico.
Meanwhile, "Music and Lyrics," the romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, unseated the three-week-in-a-row boxoffice leader "Ghost Rider" by bringing in $9.8 million over the weekend from 2,500 prints in 28 markets, debuting No. 1 in Germany with $3.1 million from 615 screens, No. 2 in Mexico with $678,000 from 37, and No. 1 in Holland with $635,000. The international gross has reached $44.2 million.
By dint of 15 new dates, including key market bookings, the Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit" advanced to second place with a weekend tally of $9.3 million from 1,987 screens in 18 countries, lifting its foreign cume to $19.3 million. The Paramount release entered the always-movie-hungry U.K. on top of the boxoffice chart with $3.7 million from 376 screens. It arrived No. 2 in Germany with $2.4 million from 540.
As it gave up its No. 1 standing for a No. 3 position, "Ghost Rider" advanced to a cume of $76.5 million after it pulled in $7.9 million over the weekend from 3,251 sites in 52 markets. Its weekend tally included No. 1 bows in Hong Kong, Portugal and Ecuador. It dropped 53% in its second weekend in the U.K. ($1.7 million from 354 screens) for a market cume of $6.5 million and fell 38% in Japan ($712,000 from 258), also a second weekend, for a market score of $2.9 million. Four weekends in Spain has delivered $6.9 million.
The U.S major studios' connection with the release of local product was highlighted over the weekend in Italy and Mexico. Warner Bros. Italy guided the Cattleya-produced romantic comedy "Ho Voglia di te" to an eye-catching No. 1 bow of $8.8 million from 652 prints, hailed as the third-highest opening ever for an Italian film. At the same time, Sony steered "Ninas Mal," from Columbia Pictures Producciones Mexico, to a $2.6 million launch from 350 screens, called the fourth-biggest opening ever for a Mexican film.
At the same time, in France, six of the top 10 films are of local origin. Pathe Distribution's "Contre-enquete" opened at No. 3 with $2.2 million from 349 screens, followed by two formidable four-week holdovers, with "La Mome" (aka "La vie en rose") at No. 1 with a market cume to date of $32.3 million and "Taxi 4" at No. 2 with $33 million. The foreign-language Oscar winner, Germany's "The Lives of Others," opened at No. 4 in the Paris region, while in its fifth weekend at home it has a market cume to date of $15.3 million.
The first overseas opening of "Wild Hogs," via Buena Vista International, brought in $2.8 million from Australia ($2.6 million from 293 screens) and New Zealand ($194,000 from 40), with Russia and Thailand set to welcome the buddy comedy this coming weekend.
"Dreamgirls," following three small openings that included India, took in $3.2 million to lift its cume to $43.9 million.
"Night at the Museum," still drumming up business after a long overseas run, added $3.1 million from 2,038 screens in 17 markets to raise its international gross to $284.7 million. The U.K. has contributed $40.8 million in 11 weeks, and France, which took in $1 million in its fifth weekend, has logged a cume to date of $16.1 million.
Will Smith starrer "The Pursuit of Happiness," another long-running overseas holdover, picked up $3.6 million from 2,248 screens in 59 countries to hoist its cume to $131.3 million.
The British cop comedy "Hot Fuzz," released by Universal, held the No. 2 U.K. spot after four weekends, tallying $2.5 million from 452 screens for a single-market cume of $34.7 million.
"Blood Diamond" hit $99 million as it picked up $2.5 million over the weekend from 2,000 screens in 52 markets.
Cume updates: "Rocky Balboa," $72.4 million; "Casino Royale," $426.2 million; "Saw III," $78.5 million; "The Departed," $154.3 million; "Letters From Iwo Jima," $52.3 million; "The Number 23," $9.4 million; "Little Children," $7.2 million; "The Holiday," $128.7 million; "Smokin' Aces," $16.3 million; "The Last King of Scotland," $21.1 million; "Epic Movie," $20 million; "Happy Feet," $172.1 million; "Charlotte's Web," $57.5 million; and "Babel," $38.8 million.