Foreign Box Office: 'Life of Pi' Repeats as No. 1; 'Hobbit' Cracks $600 Million Overseas

"Life of Pi"

"Les Miserables" sets records in the U.K. as "Gangster Squad" kicks off its international run.


Topping the international charts for the second consecutive round is director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, which collected $35 million from 9,291 situations in 67 markets, elevating its foreign gross total to a mighty $359.1 million.


Opening No. 1 in the Philippines, the Fox release boosted by 11 Oscar nominations drew its highest weekend tally in Russia ($4.46 million from 1,575 sites for a market cume of $25.1 million). 


Top market (outside of China) remains the U.K. where Life of Pi generated $3.8 million in its fourth frame from 673 sites for a territory total of $35.5 million. Weekend box office actually increased 5% in eighth round of playoff in Lee’s native Taiwan ($360,753 at 80 spots for a market cume of $16.1 million).


As it did last weekend, Warner’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey placed second, collecting $26.2 million from more than 10,370 screens in 64 markets.  The Peter Jackson opus with three Oscar nominations did, however, fly past the $600-million market in international box office ($609.3 million).


Logging record-breaking No. 1 openings in the U.K. and New Zealand, Universal’s Les Miserables bagged $25.5 million overall on the weekend at 2,425 playdates in 22 territories, hoisting its international gross total to $115.1 million. (Worldwide tally is now $233.8 million.)


The U.K. debut was especially notable because Le Mis took a 40% weekend market share with a gross of $13.1 million at 589 locations, as per Universal, the distributor’s best grossing weekend ever in the territory.  It also was the best market opening for a musical.


A musical opening market record was also set in New Zealand where the weekend generated $619,000 at 77 sites. In its third Australia round, Le Mis finished fifth with $2.3 million at 243 spots for a 19-day market cume of $18.3 million.


Japan via local distributor Toho-Towa generated $3.2 million in its fourth stanza at 356 sites for a 24-day total of $32 million.  Openings in seven markets are due this week including in India, Philippines and Sweden.


Opening in 19 markets was Warner’s Gangster Squad, a crime drama costarring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin about the takedown of L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen.  Debut round generated $9.3 million at 1,483 locations with the U.K. leading the numbers pack ($3.4 million at 436 screens including previews, sufficient for a No. 3 market ranking).


In Spain, where Universal’s release of director Katherine Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is dipping its toes in international waters, the weekend tally was $1.1 million at 241 screens, sufficient for a No. 4 market ranking.  The 10-day cume stands at $3 million.  Universal is handling the drama about the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden in major European markets with France and U.K. debuts set for next week.


Fox International came up with a pair of No. 1 market openers, both comedies handled by distributor Fox.  In Germany, actor-director Matthias Schweighofer’s Schlussmaker (Break Up Man) drew a robust $5.1 million from 450 screens while writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Hindi-language Matru Ki Bijjlee Ka Mandola grossed $6 million from 1,986 screens in eight markets, notably including a first-place bow in India ($5.4 million at 1,850).


Thanks to opening in 10 markets, Paramount’s Tom Cruise action title, Jack Reacher, came up with $18 million from a total of 5,870 locations in 57 countries in its fourth weekend of overseas play.  Foreign cume stands at $81.1 million.


Russia opened with $3 million at 600 spots. The No. 1 Spain premier produced $1.5 million at416 sites while the Brazil bow generated $946,934 at 209 situations.  Reacher opens this week in South Korea.


Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s 3D family animation title, boosted its total foreign take past the $150-million mark ($156.9 million) thanks to a $11.6 million weekend in 59 territories. It has been playing for 11 stanzas on the foreign circuit. Worldwide, the film has grossed $336.3 million.


Showing some overseas muscle outside the U.K., Universal’s release of the Working Title/Focus Features’ coproduction, Anna Karenina, costarring Keira Knightley and Jude Law, made a big splash in Russia where the opening tally was $4.8 million at 489 playdates, sufficient for a No. 5 market ranking.  Weekend overall generated $6.3 million at 1,321 screens in 20 territories for an international total of $31.5 million.


Drawing $4.6 million from 1,974 sites in 29 territories was Parental Guidance, Fox’s comedy costarring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  A Brazil opening at 250 spots generated $842,451.  Foreign cume stands at $23.2 million.    


More data from 2012:  The U.K. (including Ireland) recorded record yearly box office of  $1.887 billion (1.172 pounds), up 4 % from 2011’s total market figure. A strong fourth quarter, featuring record takings of Skyfall, Sony/MGM’s James Bond sequel, which became the first film ever to breach the 100-million pound mark. The film’s U.K. cume now stands at $164.2 million. 


Skyfalldrew $4 million on the weekend from 2,545 venues in 50 markets, raising its foreign gross total to $733.5 million of which $643.5 million came from territories handled by Sony and $90 million from those handled by MGM.


DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians grossed $4 million at 3,539 venues in 54 markets in its ninth weekend offshore, raising the foreign cume via Paramount to $187.9 million.  Universal Pitch Perfect pocketed $2.2 million at 1,035 spots in 15 markets, lifting its foreign cume to $40.3 million. 


Still the top local language title in France was Mars Distribution’s De L’autre Cote De Periph (The Other Side of the Fence) starring Omar Sy. The police caper about two mismatched cops assigned to a murder case generated $1.8 million in its fourth round at 629 screens, sufficient for a No.2 market ranking. Market cume stands at $16.3 million. (The Weinstein Co. has domestic distribution rights.)


Other international cumes:Warner Bros.’ Argo, $69.3 million; Fox/Europa Corp.’s Taken 2, $234.1 million (after a $1.7 million opening in Japan at 288 venues); Universal’sThis Is 40, $424,965; EuropaCorp Distribution’s Prince (Pas Trop) Charmant, $700,000 in opener in France at 175 dates; Universal’s ParaNorman, $47.6 million; Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom, $21.4 million; Paramount’s Cirque du Soleil – World’s Away, $14.8 million; and Fox’s The Sessions, $3.2 million.


Also, E1 Films’ The Impossible, $11.5 million in two U.K. rounds; Lionsgate’s Texas Chainsaw 3D, opened No. 6 in U.K. with $2 million drawn from 284 spots; Fox’s Hitchcock, opened to $1.3 million at 226 sites in two markets; Par’s Flight, $5.8 million; Focus Features’ Hyde Park On Hudson, opened to $338,324 at 33 screens in Italy and the Netherlands; Universal’s Man With The Iron Fists, $4.1 million; Cloud Atlas, $11.5 million in Focus Features territories only; and Universal’s Colpi di Fulmine, $13.8 million over 32 days in Italy only.        


Opening this week: Sony said it is distributing Django Unchained adorned with its five Oscar nominations in all foreign markets.The first openings in 51 markets begin Wed. (Jan. 16) through Friday (Jan. 18), including all of Europe along with most of Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Middle East.The only major territories not opening that weekend are Australia (Jan. 24), Japan (March 1), and Korea (March 21).  A China debut date is not set.