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The foreign theatrical circuit ended 2012 with a box office bang as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey commanded the No. 1 spot with a weekend gross of $106.5 million at some 16,600 screens in 62 markets, raising the film’s overseas gross total to $464 million.
Director Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic — of the first installment of the director’s $500 million trilogy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel – took a relatively benign dip of 12% from its second round in holdover markets, and has perched No. 1 offshore for three consecutive stanzas.
An Australia debut generated an amazing $18.6 million from 560, and all but took over the market. Biggest holdover market is Germany where The Hobbit has registered a market total of $60 million.
New to the foreign circuit was Twentieth Century Fox’s release of Walden Media-Chernin Ent.’s Parental Guidance, which opened in seven markets to a bracing $7 million at 1,491 locations. The comedy costarring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler premiered best in Australia ($2.8 million at 234 sites) and in the U.K. ($2.1 million at 440). This week will bring 17 new market openings.
Meanwhile, it appears certain that the Hollywood major studios – Fox, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. – have broken their recent string of consecutive yearly box office records set on the foreign theatrical circuit. Preliminary figures from each company put the studios’ collective 2012 taking at $13.485 billion, less that the $13.6 billion b.o. record set in 2011.
Fox, which leads the six companies, scored a 21% jump in yearly foreign box office with a total of $2.725 billion registered this year versus $2.160 billion in all of 2011. Top title by far was the computer-animation Ice Age Continental Drift, which scored an amazing $718.1 million on foreign box office. Following from a distance were Titanic 3D ($291.9 million) and Promethueus ($277.6 million).
Warner Bros. came in second with $2.670 billion for the year, down seven percent from last year and nine percent from the company’s foreign b.o. record of $2.930 billion set in 2010. Top two titles are The Dark Knight Rises, which grossed $634 million offshore, and The Hobbit.
Sony set this year a foreign box office record for the company, coming in with a total of $2.660 billion overseas – a 45% increase over the company’s 2011 total of $1.830 billion. Sony’s previous best was 2009 when it took in 2.142 billion in overseas box office.
The latest James Bond sequel, Skyfall, was the big driver, grossing $622.8 million in Sony-handled offshore markets ($710.6 million overall including those markets handled by co-distributor MGM), the highest-grossing title ever released by Sony overseas. The company also distributed this year The Amazing Spider-Man (grossing $491.9 million offshore) and Men In Black 3 ($445.7 million).
Having its ups and down in 2012 was Disney, which recorded $2.080 billion in foreign box office, down 6% from 2011. Highlight, of course, was Marvel’s The Avengers, which tallied a huge $892.4 million in overseas earnings. The flip side was John Carter, which pulled a disappointing offshore tally of $208.2 million.
Despite one or two high profile disappointments, Universal logged a record year overseas, taking in $1.788 billion in foreign box office — 41% higher than 2011 and 4% bigger than the company’s previous record of $1.716 billion set in 2008. Universal had six titles grossing over $100 million offshore including Ted ($284.3 million) and Snow White and the Huntsman ($245.3 million).
With a contracted overseas release schedule, Paramount took a 51% tumble from 2011, grossing $1.562 billion offshore this year. It should be noted that last year set a foreign record for the company ($3.198 billion in offshore box office). Top earner this time was DreamWorks’ Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which collected $525.5 million offshore.
Biggest indie by far was Lionsgate, which collected $1.243 billion in foreign box office – up 280% from 2011 – on the strength of Twilight Saga:Breaking Dawn Part 2 (which drew $520.2 million offshore) and The Hunger Games ($284.8 million).
Returning to weekend action, Fox’s Life of Pi continues strongly on the foreign circuit, drawing $39.2 million on the weekend from 8,394 spots in 56 territories, raising director Ang Lee’s film to a cume of $220 million, of which $90.8 million came from China.
A Germany opening was particularly strong, drawing $7.1 million from 704 sites. Second U.K. round drew $6.6 million from 1,015 venues for a market cume of $17 million. Life of Pi opens in nine markets this week including Australia, Russia and South Korea.
Registering record market openings for a musical in South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia, Universal’s Les Miserables costarring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe andAnn Hathaway drew a weekend total of $38.3 million from a total of 1,698 venues in eight markets, lifting its early offshore cume to $48.7 million.
The No. 1 Korea tally was a muscular $20.1 million over six days at 599 sites. In Hong Kong, the opening gross was $1.6 million including previews at just 31 playdates. In Australia, where the musical update opened on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), the opening launch delivered $8.3 million including previews over five days at 241 locations. Les Miz’s International rollout continues Jan. 11 with a UK opening.
Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s 3D family animation title, boosted its total foreign take past the $100-million mark ($100.2 million) thanks to a $20.4 million weekend in 40 territories. It has been playing nine stanzas on the foreign circuit.
Opening in 25 markets including the U.K. and France, Paramount’s latest Tom Cruise action title, Jack Reacher, came up with $18.1 million from a total of 2,195 locations in 32 countries. Early overseas cume stands at $22.5 million.
The No. 3 bow in the U.K. generated $5.5 million at 445 locations over five days. In France, the No. 2 debut delivered $4.4 million at 480 spots. Reacher opens this week at 17 markets including Australia, Germany, Italy and Mexico.
DreamWorks Rise of the Guardians collected $11.6 million in its seventh round overseas from 5,151 locations in 59 markets. The Paramount release, a $145 million fantasy title featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, lifted its foreign gross to $165.2 million.
Sony/MGM’s Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise, grossed $10.3 million from 3,225 sites in 60 markets handled by Sony and licensees of co-distributor MGM. In the U.K., where Skyfall has been gangbusters, the film became over the weekend the first movie ever to break the 100-pound sterling mark at the local box office. U.K. came stands at $161.6 million.
Universal’s rom/com-musical Pitch Perfect grossed $6.2 million from 1,250 locations in 15 markets. The film’s early international gross total stands at $28.7 million.
Weekend box office action in France was generally heated. Top local language title remained Mars Distribution’s De L’autre Cote De Periph starring Omar Sy. The police caper about two mismatched cops assigned to a murder case drew $5.6 million from some 480 screens – up some 40% from its opening session last round — sufficient for a No.2 market ranking. Market cume stands at $10 million. (The Weinstein Co. has domestic distribution rights.)