Foreign Box Office: 'Battleship' No. 1 Overseas, Securing Over $130 Million In Two Rounds

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The month's three biggest movies involve pitched battles with creatures from other planets. Hollywood might consider that a formula for success, but there's plenty at risk -- especially for Universal's $200 million "Battleship," a big-budget adaptation of the Hasbro game and the lone nonsequel among the big three.

"Titanic 3D" still hot in China; Italy reciprocates with Woody Allen's "To Rome, With Love;" Hollywood majors record flat first quarter at the foreign box office.


A generally somnolent spring weekend on the foreign theatrical circuit was sparked by No. 1 box office of Universal’s Battleship, which grossed $60 million -- $1.6 million more than Sunday’s estimate -- from 9,580 playdates in 50 territories for an overseas cume over two rounds of $131.2 million.


But boxoffice challenges lie ahead for Battleship given its hefty production price tag, which Universal puts at $209 million. The studio said it regards the total performance of the film offshore as “good thus far.”


The film has 14 more foreign territories to open including Israel on May 3, South Africa on May 4, and Latin American on May 10. An exec at another studio, speaking on backround, notes that the while debuts in most of the largest foreign territories are already behind Battleship, the overseas gross total stands at little more than $130 million. 


Universal decided to open the film overseas month before its May 18 opening in the U.S. and Canada, taking into account various sporting and cultural events plus the competitive calendar. Thus, the film’s domestic gross action will take on added importance given the foreign results so far.


Director Peter Berg’s sci-fi/action title based on a Hasbro naval combat game about sea warfare with an alien armada, opened on the weekend No. 1 in 16 territories on the weekend with its Russia bow providing $11.2 million at 810 sites, a 76% market share slice. A No. 2 premier in China provided an estimated $17.7 million from 3,000 situations, the biggest market opening ever for a Universal title.


Costarring Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson, Battleship won the No. 1 spot in the Ukraine ($997,000 at 140 spots) and, in its second weekend, finished first in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.


Opening No. 1 in Italy via Medusa Film was To Rome With Love, director Woody Allen’s lastest title costarring himself with Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis andJesse Eisenberg. Opening round at 599 screens drew $3.7 million. A June opening is slated for the U.S. and Canada.


Warner Bros. opened The Lucky One on the foreign circuit in nine markets for an debut tally of $3.7 million from 540 sites for a per-screen average of nearly $6,900.  The romantic melodrama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and costarring Zac Efron andTaylor Schilling premiered No. 1 in Australia via Roadshow, eliciting $2.4 million from 242 sites. Openings in Italy and Germany loom this week.


Making a No. 2 debut in the U.K. was Lionsgate/BBC Film’s coproduction, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, director Lasse Hallstrom’s comedy-drama costarring Ewan McGregor. Opener at 412 locations provided$1.9 million.


No matter what the calendar tells us, the summer season on the foreign theatrical circuit kicks off next week with the opening of Avengers, Disney’s $220- million Marvel Comics tentpole costarring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel Jackson Jr. andScarlett Johansson. Openings in 40 markets, which Disney describes as about 70% of the international marketplace, begin in France, Italy, Australia, Taiwan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Russia on May 3.


Summer playdates come none too soon since first quarter overseas box office for the six American major studios was flat overall compared with their comparable collective take in 2011’s first three months, $2.934 billion versus $2.950 billion.  (Calendar year 2011 foreign box office for the major studios rose 7% from 2010, notching a record $13.5 million.)


Warner Bros., which finished fourth in first quarter 2011 takings, came out on top for the January-through-March period this year, grossing $732 million, up 45% thanks largely to offshore returns for Sherlock Homes: A Games of Shadows ($254 million) and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($214 million).


Second was 20th Century Fox, which finished No. 1 in the last year but took a 4% drop in this year’s first quarter, grossing $605.4 million offshore.  Third was Paramount, the fifth-place finisher last year, which this time registered $572.1 million, up 4%.  Paramount’s big foreign earners for the period were Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots and Hugo.


Disney reported first quarter foreign b.o. of $425 million, off 0.3% from last year while the No. 5 finisher, Sony, came in with $369.9 million, down 30% from the year ago period when it had The Tourist, Green Hornet and Battle: Los Angles in foreign release. Universal, on the other hand, registered $202.1 million, up 31% from first quarter 2011 with several solid titles led by Safe House ($72.6 million) in release.


In second place on the weekend was 20th Century Fox’s re-release, Titanic 3D, which dropped 66% from its prior weekend, grossing $33.6 million at 9,387 situations in 70 markets.  China again provided the bulk of the action with $24.6 million derived over five days from 3,500 sites for a market cume of $105.2 million.  Overall cume for the re-release stands at $225.6 million.


Third was Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games, which lifted its overseas gross total to $217 million thanks to a $14.5 million weekend at 5,110 screens. The film has played in 71 territories, the latest newcomer being Spain where the No. 1 opening tally was $3.8 million at 545 situations. 


Universal’s American Pie: Reunion is No. 4 with $9.9 million registered on the weekend at 2,854 situations in 37 territories. The franchise comedy sequel opened No. 1 in Brazil with $2.2 million drawn from 227 playdates.  Overseas cume stands at $56.4 million.


No. 5 was Warner’s Wrath of the Titans, which pushed its overseas total gross past the $200 million mark ($202 million) after an $8.8 million weekend playing in 62 markets.


Relativity Media’s coproduction of Mirror Mirror, director Tarsem Singh’s adaptation of the Snow White legend costarring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, grossed via myriad local distributors $8.2 million. Overseas cume from bookings in 49 markets comes to $76.5 million with playdates in the Netherlands, China, South Korea and Japan still ahead.      


Sony Animation’s co-production, Pirates! Band of Misfits, which opens Friday (April 27) in the U.S. and Canada, hoisted its foreign gross total to $56 million thanks to a $7.9 million weekend at 4,743 venues in 46 markets.


No. 1 in France for the third straight round is Pathe’s release of the live action/animation adventure created by Alain Chabet, Houba! Sur la piste du Marsupilami, which collected another $6.85 million on the weekend from 870 sites, raising its market cume to $33 million.


Universal’s 3D animation title, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, elevated its foreign gross total to $83.6 million after a $5.3 million weekend collected from 3,030 venues in 49 markets.  Lionsgate’s horror title, Cabin in the Woods, drew $3.4 million from 872 screens in 14 territories, pushing its foreign cume to $9.1 million, while Sony’s 21 Jump Street, the feature version of the vintage tv series, drew $3.1 million from 1,247 situations in 23 markets, lifting its foreign gross total to $39.6 million.


Other international cumes:  Fox’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, $66.2 million (after a $3 million weekend at 1,425 sites in 29 markets); Universal’s Marley, $304,000 from 63 sites in U.K. opener); Warner’s Journey 2, $201 million; DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s Puss In Boots, $404.6 million; Fox’s Chronicle, $59.4 million; Hugo, $77.6 million in Paramount territories only; Fox’s This Means War, $91.7 million; Paramount’s The Devil Inside, $48 million; and Fox’s We Bought A Zoo, $35.2 million.


Also,The Weinstein Co.’s The Artist, $85 million (worldwide, $129.2 million); Sony and other distributors’ The Vow, $58.2 million; Focus Features’ One Day, $43.8 million; Sony’s Jack and Jill, $76.2 million; and Paramount’s Russian Disco, $5.6 million in Russia only;