UPDATED: It’s open season so far this year at the foreign box office.
Unlike the first two months of 2010 when Avatar monopolized overseas box office, 2011 on the foreign theatrical circuit remains fluid, allowing ample breathing room to a mix of Oscar nominated titles and local-language films.
Taking the weekend’s No. 1 overseas spot for the second straight stanza was 20th Century Fox’s Black Swan, which collected $17.6 million from 3,699 locations in 39 markets, pushing the multiple-Academy Award contender to a $98.2 million foreign gross total.
Opening in six markets, Swan, starring best actress nominee Natalie Portman as a troubled ballet dancer, opened strongly in Spain ($2.9 million from 296 situations) and took the No. 2 France spot in its second round there ($3.8 million from 338 locales for a market cume of $9.8 million).
Coming in a very close No. 2 was the Weinstein Co. coproduction, The King’s Speech, which collected $15.8 million on the weekend from 2,728 screens in some 35 markets, pushing the royal historical drama’s overseas box office total to $130.7 million and its worldwide cume to $235.5 million.
In the U.K. alone, the multiple Oscar contender starring Colin Firth has garnered (via Momentum) $60.3 million over seven frames. Speech introduced itself on the weekend (via Senator) to 253 Germany locations for $2.3 million and a No. 3 market ranking.
Meanwhile, homegrown films flourished on the weekend in several key markets.
The biggest opening of 2011 in the U.K. was British-based Working Title Films’ Paul, about British comic book geeks encountering an alien (voiced by Seth Rogan) while on a road trip in the U.S. Released by Universal in the U.K. and Ireland and co-scripted and costarring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Paul decisively claimed the market’s No. 1 spot with $8.9 million (including previews) from some 429 locations.
Opening No. 1 in South Korea was Lotte’s release of director Kyoo-man Lee‘s Children, a crime drama based on the actual 1991 murders of five grade school pupils, a case that created a national sandal and remains unsolved to this day. Debut round generated $3.5 million at 508 screens.
In Japan, 2010’s biggest box office market for the Hollywood majors, Toho’s Gantz took the No. 1 spot its fourth round with $2.2 million grossed at 410 situations. The live action adaptation of a popular manga andTV animation has rolled up a market cume of $30.5 million.
In Italy, the top two titles in the market were local language productions with Medusa Film’s Femmine Contro maschi (Females Against Males), director Fausto Brizzi‘s battle of the sexes comedy taking the No. 1 spot with $1.86 million drawn from 436 locations.
Nabbing the top rank in its third France round was Rien a declarer (Nothing to Declare), the smash comedy from actor-director-scripter Danny Boon, which grossed an estimated $8.9 million from some 1,034 situations, pushing the market cume for the Pathe release to $51 million.
In Russia, Sony teamed up with Disney to open Vikrutasy (Tricksters), a local-language romantic comedy produced by Timur Berkmambetov and costarring Konstantin Khabensky as a rural school teacher who falls for a worldly Moscow woman played by Milla Jovovich. The title took No. 1 in the market with $4.4 million drawn from 797 screens.
In Germany, Warner Bros. Int’l.’s release of Kokowaah took the top spot for the third consecutive round, grossing $5.5 million at 762 locations for a market cume of $26.7 million. Overall on the weekend, the father-daughter comedy and vehicle for actor-director Til Schweiger grossed $6.1 million from Germany, Austria and German-speaking Swtizerland for a cume of $30 million.
The good news is that the foreign circuit is more receptive this year to varied film genres. The bad news is that collective gross numbers for films from the major Hollywood studios have sharply dropped.
Complete January foreign gross returns — including an estimate for Warner Bros.; the studio declined to disclose an aggregate figure for last month — shows the big six Hollywood majors bagged $1,113.6 billion, down 33% from the $1,668.5 million grossed in January 2010 when Avatar was tearing up the foreign theatrical circuit. The studios finished January, in order: Fox ($278 million), Disney ($255.8 million), Sony ($206 million), Paramount ($187.7 million), Warner Bros. (estimated $155.8 million) and Universal ($30.3 million).
No. 3 overall on the just concluded weekend, Disney Animation’s Tangled, claimed claimed top spots in five territories (Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden), generating $11.5 million overall on the weekend from 4,049 screens and pushing its foreign gross total to $329.4 million from 48 territories.
The 3D reworking of the Rapunzel tale from Brothers Grimm continues to draw especially well in Spain where the weekend provided $3.2 million from 612 venues for a market cume over three rounds of $14.2 million.
No Strings Attached costarring Oscar contender Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, screened at 1,822 spots in 31 territories for a weekend tally of $10.9 million, sufficient for a No. 4 weekend ranking overall.
Foreign cume stands at $21.9 million. Strings opened in nine territories, notably in France ($2.8 million from 301 spots) and enjoyed No. 1 debuts in the Netherlands and Austria. Openings in eight markets including the U.K. and Mexico are due this week.
No. 5 on the weekend was Yogi Bear, Warner Bros.’ animation outing, which played 4,600 screens in 45 markets, drawing $10.4 million on the weekend and pushing its overseas cume to $77.9 million.
True Grit, the Coen brothers’ Western update Oscar contender, played 2,581 situations in 37 markets (opening in 20) for a weekend gross of $10.1 million. Foreign cume so far is $29 million.
Sanctum, Universal-Relativity Media’s coproduction (with James Cameron) being handled via various distributors around the world generated $9.1 million on the weekend from 2,028 screens, hoisting its foreign cume to $40 million, as per FilmNation Ent., which is supervising foreign release of the underwater adventure. A Hong Kong bow produced $1.3 million (including previews) from 36 sites.
Opening in 10 markets was Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, the latest in Fox’s comedy franchise starring Martin Lawrence. Debut weekend produced $4 million from 734 screens. The No. 1 title in the U.S. and Canada, Warner’s Unknown opened at 965 screens in 11 foreign markets for a weekend gross of $5.5 million.
Also new to the foreign circuit on the weekend was I Am Number Four, the first overseas release by Disney of a DreamWorks title as per the companies’ distribution arrangement. The sci-fi-thriller drew $3.7 million from 882 locations – averaging $4,195 per screen – in nine overseas markets.
Paramount opened concert film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in the U.K. for $1.33 million drawn from 591 locations. Also in the U.K., another Paramount multiple Oscar contender, The Fighter, drew $899,053 in its third round at 368 spots pushing its market cume to $8.29 million.
No. 1 in Australia was Gnomeo & Juliet, which generated $1.96 million in its market opener via Disney. In the U.K., via E1 Ent., the computer-animated comedy adventure based on Shakespeare nabbed $3.6 million in its second weekend at 479 locations, enough to qualify for the No. 2 spot right behind the home-grown Universal comedy Paul. Overall weekend take (including Disney’s total $4 gross from 987 screens in eight territories) comes to $7.6 million.
Exorcism-themed The Rite, the horror vehicle for Anthony Hopkins, drew another $6 million on the weekend at some 1,500 screens in 15 Markets. That pushes the film’s early foreign cume to $10.5 million.
Opening in Scandinavian markets and weighing in with $5.3 million, from 2,105 locations in 26 markets, was Gulliver’s Travels, the 3D comedy starring Jack Black. Total foreign gross stands at 157.4 million. Also from Fox 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle‘s Oscar contender starring James Franco, drew $5.16 million from 1,647 sites in 33 territories for a foreign cume of $12.8 million.
Opening No. 1 in Brazil ($1.3 million drawn from 402 venues) on the weekend was Sony’s The Green Hornet, the Seth Rogan 3D vehicle based on the radio series about a masked vigilante and sidekick Kato, which has been playing overseas since Jan. 12. Total weekend take was $7.4 million from some 5,337 screens in 68 markets, pushing the film’s foreign gross total so far to $121.5 million.
Sony and other distributors’ The Tourist, playing offshore since Dec. 9, was bolstered by a robust second weekend in China ($4.5 million from some 2,000 screens, as per Sony), with an overall weekend gross registering $6.1 million from 3,980 screens in 56 territories. Foreign gross for the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie vehicle totals $178 million of which $124.2 originates in Sony-handled territories.
Just Go With It, the Adam Sandler comedy costarring Jennifer Anniston, pulled $4.3 million in its second weekend at 1,020 screens in 19 markets, elevating the Sony release’s early foreign total to $13.16 million. Disney’s Tron: Legacy pushed its foreign cume to $220 million thanks to a $4.1 million weekend at 1,366 spots in 30 markets.
Other international cumes: Sony’s Burlesque, $47.9 million; Paramount’s Morning Glory, $17.8 million; Lionsgate’s Saw 3D, $87.6 million; Fox’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, $276.9 million; Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 2, $90.3 million; Focus Features’ Another Year, $12.9 million; Fox’s Love & Other Drugs, $63.6 million; Warner’s Hereafter, $63.6 million (after a $4.6 million weekend at 1,900 sites in 33 markets including a $2.5 million Japan bow at 292 locations); Lionsgate’s Season of the Witch, estimated $47.1 million; Paramount’s Little Fockers, $160.1 million; Focus Features’ The Eagle, $3.7 million; Fox’s Never Let Me Go, $2.48 million; Universal’s The Dilemma, $17.5 million; Fox’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, $84.9 million; Universal’s Devil, $28.6 million; and DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s Megamind, $170.8 million.