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After months in the box office doldrums, the foreign theatrical circuit logged a robust weekend thanks to the overseas introduction of Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which registered a No. 1 offshore gross of $56.2 million drawn from 5,415 venues screens in 21 markets.
Also propelling the overall action was DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots, which set records for an animation title in Russia ($15 million from 700 locations) and in the Ukraine ($1.7 million from 110 sites).
The 3D animation spinoff from Shrek, featuring Antonio Banderas as the voice of a swashbuckling feline, also opened in the Philippines. Total take for the Paramount release comes in at $17.2 million, ranking Puss In Boots as the weekend’s No. 2 title overall.
No. 3 was 20th Century Fox’s In Time, a sci-fi/thriller costarring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, which collected $15.6 million from 2,514 screens in 35 markets. No. 1 debuts were recorded in Russia ($5 million at 903 sites), Australia ($2.6 million from 279 locations), Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand.
Fourth was Paramount’s horror outing, Paranormal Activity 3, which collected $14.1 million from 3,374 locations in 40 territories in its second round of international playoff, with the U.K. and Ireland providing $3 million at 415 situations, sufficient for a No. 2 market ranking and a market cume of $12.2 million. Total foreign gross so far is $51.4 million.
No. 5 was Disney’s sci-fi/action drama Real Steel, which grossed $13.2 million in 34 markets in its fourth overseas round, pushing its offshore cume past the $100-million mark ($109.2 million). Summit International’s release of Constantin’s The Three Musketeers, the latest film adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, grossed $12.8 million from some 5,300 screens, buoyed by openings in 10 markets including a No. 2 Japan premier via Gaga Communications. Offshore cume stands at $86.6 million.
The opening of Tintin — the 3D motion-capture animation produced by Peter Jackson and based on the highly popular European comic book series created by Belgian artist Herge (nee Georges Remi) about the adventures of a young reporter and his faithful fox terror — represents about 56% of the film’s international b.o. potential, said Sony, which is co-distributing abroad with Paramount.
No. 1 rankings were notched in at least 15 of Tintin’s opening markets with France leading the way ($21 million collected over five days from 935 spots), which Sony described as “the biggest opening ever for an original, non-sequel film from Hollywood.” The U.K. logged another $10.9 million from 512 spots. Spain contributed $6.67 million at 855 locations while Germany came up with $4.8 million from 652 locales.
In Herge’s home country, Belgium, the Tintin gross was $1.9 million drawn from 169 screens for a per-site average of over $11,300. It was the market’s second biggest opening of 2011, said Sony.
Tintin’s offshore release of broke new ground in that it is believed to be the first studio tentpole to enter the foreign theatrical marketplace under the aegis of two major Hollywood distributors at the same time.
“I do not think it has ever been done,” said Mark Zucker, president of Sony Pictures Releasing Int’l., which is handling Tintin in Europe and many other markets. Paramount, which has U.S. and Canada distribution rights, is handling the title in all foreign English-speaking territories and in Asia (excluding India), including a Dec. 1 debut in Japan.
Another headscratcher for studio international execs — Tintin is not scheduled to open domestically until Dec. 21, a rarity given that most tentpole studio titles launch simultaneously around the world. Some films in the James Bond series have premiered offshore weeks before opening in the U.S. and Canada, but a separation of months between debuts may be unprecedented.
“October is the right period for the movie (to open) in Europe,” argues London-based Andrew Cripps, outgoing president of Paramount Pictures Int’l. Cripps notes that successive rounds of half-term school holidays are beginning across Europe.
“This week in the U.K. (an in France), all the kids are off. In Belgium (and in Russia) next week, all the kids are off. There are lots of school breaks in most European countries. Given that Tintin is such a European property, and so well known in Europe, you know, this (film) can play right through to Christmas,” said Cripps. (Herge wrote and illustrated 23 Tintin comic books from 1929 until his death in 1983.)
Further, the outgoing Paramount exec noted that the October opening gives Tintin a jump on what looms as a busy overseas holiday season amply stocked with family-oriented animation comedies including Warner’s Happy Feet Two, DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots, Sony’s Arthur Christmas and Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked.
— Universal’s Johnny English Reborn boosted its foreign gross total to $126.3 million thanks to a $13 million weekend at 4,107 sites in 53 markets. With eight more territories yet to play, Reborn expects this week to fly by the $133 million overseas gross total compiled eight years ago by Johnny English, the first Rowan Atkinson spy spoof.
— Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, at the conclusion of its offshore run, drew $9 million from 2,600 locations in its China opening. Weekend overall came up with $10.4 million from 3,300 sites in eight markets, pushing its foreign cume to $279 million. Openings in Latin America pushed the weekend tally for Warner Bros.’ Contagion to $8.5 million from some 2,800 screens in 45 territories, bringing the disease-disaster title’s overseas cume to $36 million.
— Making a smashing No. 1 Japan debut was Fuji TV/Toho’s coproduction of director Koki Mitani’s comedy fantasy Sutekina Kanashibari (Once in a Blue Moon), which collected $6.6 million from 427 locations. Opening No. 1 in Italy was Warner Bros.’ release of director Allessandro Genovese’s comedy, La Peggior Settimana Della Mia Vita (The Worst Week of My Life), which drew 3.3 million from 478 screens.
— Taking the No. 2 spot in France was EuroCorp. Distribution’s Un Monstre a Paris (A Monster in Paris), director Bibo Bergeron’s animation comedy about a monster and a beautiful nightclub singer. Third round bounced up some 90% (because of local school holidays), generating an estimated $4.1 million from 617 screens for a market cume of $11.4 million. No. 3 in France was cop drama Polisse, which dew $3.5 million in its second round at 407 locations for a market cume of $8.8 million.
— Opening No. 8 in the U.K. was eOne Films’ release of George Clooney’s The Ides of March, which collected nearly $1.1 million from 213 spots, averaging a bit more than $5,000 per screen. Disney’s The Help also made its U.K. debut, finishing No. 7 with $1.45 million derived from 294 locations. Overseas cume over nine round for the DreamWorks production tallies $16 million. The Weinstein Co.’s The Artist played 472 dates in France and Belgium, collecting $2 million and lifting its cume from both markets to $9.6 million.
Other international cumes: Sony’s The Smurfs, $413.9 million; Fox’s Monte Carlo, $16.4 million; Universal’sThe Change-Up, $29.6 million; Sony’sFriends With Benefits, $92 million; Paramount’s Footloose, $8.2 million; Universal’s The Thing, $4.1 million; Disney’s The Lion King 3D, $50.7 million; Universal’s The Debt, $11.9 million; Fox’s What’s Your Number, $14.6 million; Focus Features/Universal’s One Day, $29.3 million; and Fox’s You Are The Apple of My Eye, $16.7 million in Taiwan only.
Also, Sony’s Moneyball, $2.4 million; Paramount’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, $1.8 million over two rounds in the U.K.; Lionsgate’s Abduction, $49 million; The Weinstein Cop.’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, $14.4 million; Paramount’s Cowboys & Aliens, $72.8 million; Universal’s Fast Five, $417.9 million; The Weinstein Co.’s Spy Kids 4, $34.2 million; Focus Features’ Beginners, $7.9 million; Lionsgate’s The Warrior, $5.8 million; Focus Features/Universal’s Jane Eyre, $17.5 million; Paramount’s Captain America: The First Avenger, $191.4 million; Universal’s The Intruders, $3.6 million in Spain only; and Paramount’s Rango, $121.9 million.
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