Box Office Milestone: 'Life of Pi' Crosses $300 Mil Overseas, Nears $400 Mil Worldwide

FOX: "Life of Pi"

Fox is back in the ring this year with Ang Lee's ambitious epic "Life of Pi," opening Nov. 21. It breaks new ground with its 3D and lavish visual effects, which have received a seal of approval from Cameron himself.

The fantasy-adventure grosses $59.3 million internationally for the weekend to edge past "The Hobbit"; Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" makes its first stop overseas.

Marking veteran filmmaker Ang Lee's top-grossing film, Life of Pi has jumped the $300 million mark at the international box office for a foreign of $302 million through Sunday.

The 20th Century Fox film took in weekend earnings of $59.3 million from 64 foreign markets for the weekend, narrowly beating Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Hobbit, which had topped the foreign chart for three weekends, is certainly no slouch. The tentpole took in $58.6 million from 65 markets for an international cume of $562.8 million.

Many questioned whether Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel 2001 novel about a young Indian boy lost at sea with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, could be successfully adapted for the big screen. Costing north of $120 million to produce, the movie has earned $91.1 million domestically but is doing much bigger business overseas.

FILM REVIEW: Life of Pi

Life of Pi made headlines when debuting first in Asia, grossing $90.8 million in China alone. Now, it's doing impressive business in Europe and Latin America, as well as Australia.

Lee's film opened at No. 1 in seven of eight new markets during the weekend, with Russia leading the pack with $14.2 million. In Australia, the movie opened to $8.3 million to come in No. 1 ahead of Hobbit and Les Miserables, which headlines Aussie star Russell Crowe.

Tiny New Zealand generated $1.2 million from 140 screens for a per-screen average of nearly $8,500. In Europe, Life of Pi has taken in $28.7 million in the U.K., while it has earned $14.6 million in Germany.

Life of Pi  held at No. 1 in Mexico over the weekend, putting its total there at $11.1 million.

"Pi is resonating with people of all cultures around the world," Fox president of international distribution Paul Hanneman said.

Meanwhile, Hobbit drew $6.1 million from 560 sites in its second weekend of play in Australia, lifting the market cume there to $29.7 million.  Biggest territory for the film remains Germany where the cume stands at $74.1 million.   

Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty made its first appearance at the international box office as it opened in Spain via Universal. The movie took in $1.3 million from 232 screens for a stand-out location average of nearly $5,700, the best of any film. The opening was 495% larger than for Bigelow’s 2008 Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.

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Opening in 15 markets over the weekend, including U.K. and France, Paramount’s Tom Cruise action pic Jack Reacher grossed $22.4 million from 47 countries for an overseas cume of $55.6 million.

Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s 3D family animation title, boosted its total foreign take well past the $100 million mark ($132.7 million) thanks to a $19.5 million weekend in 56 territories. It has been playing for 10 stanzas on the foreign circuit. Worldwide, the film has grossed $311.2 million.

Universal’s Les Mis drew a weekend total of $14.4 million from a total of 1,667 venues in 17 markets, lifting its early offshore cume to $81 million. The musical continued to enjoy a strong run in Japan, where it has now grossed $24.7 million

And chip it in stone: Final 2012 figures received this week from the Hollywood major studios -- Fox, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. -- confirm that their recent string of consecutive yearly box office records set on the foreign theatrical circuit has been snapped. Collective 2012 takings total $13.5 billion, slightly less that the record of $13.6 billion record set in 2011.

Fox, which leads the six companies, scored a 26 percent jump in yearly foreign box office with a total of $2.71 billion registered this year. No. 2 was Sony, which set this year a foreign box office record for the company, coming up with a total of $2.67 billion overseas. (Sony’s previous best was $2.14 billion in 2009.) 

Warner Bros. came in third with $2.67 billion for the year, down seven percent from last year and nine percent from the company’s foreign b.o. record of $2.93 billion in 2010. No. 4 Disney recorded $2.09 billion in foreign box office, down 4 percent from 2011.  

Despite one or two high-profile disappointments, No. 5 Universal logged a record year overseas, taking in $1.79 billion in foreign box office -- 41 percent higher than 2011 and 4 percent more than the company’s previous record of $1.72 billion in 2008. With a contracted overseas release schedule, Paramount took a 51 percent tumble from 2011, grossing $1.57 billion offshore this year.

The biggest indie by far was Lionsgate, which collected $1.25 billion in foreign box office – up 280 percent from 2011 on the strength of Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 (which drew $524.7 million offshore) and The Hunger Games ($284.8 million).