Box Office Report: 'Journey 2' Soaring Overseas in Advance of U.S. Launch

"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island"

The New Line and Warner Bros. sequel is pacing 76 percent ahead of the first film in the select countries where it has opened.

Warner Bros.' decision to take advantage of various holidays and open New Line's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in select foreign markets before the film's North American launch on Feb. 10 is paying off.

The sequel, starring Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens, has already grossed $26.5 million from only eight markets, 76 percent ahead of the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth at the same point in those territories, according to Warner Bros. president of international distribution Veronika Kwan-Rubinek.

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(Hutcherson, who stars in the upcoming Hunger Games, is the only returning cast member.)

Journey 2 opened nearly three weeks ago in Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, where the Chinese New Year holiday makes for prime moviegoing. It also opened in Australia and New Zealand, where there are school holidays.

The sequel has earned $6.6 million in Korea, followed by $5.6 million in Australia, where Fast Five -- also starring Johnson -- did massive business.

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Overall, the movie's strong performance is attributed to an aggressive publicity push. Johnson and director Brad Peyton toured Taipei, Taiwan and attended the film's premiere, which commemorated the Chinese New Year. There also was a junket and news conference attended by 200 members of the media, who were treated to Johnson playing the ukulele.

Journey to the Center of the Earth did substantially more business overseas in 2008, grossing $140.3 million internationally compared to $101.7 million domestically. It was one of the earlier movies released in digital 3D and starred Brendan Fraser, Hutcherson and Anita Briem.

Much of Journey 2 is set in Palau, a chain of islands east of the Philippines.

Considering the strength of the international box office, it's no longer taboo for Hollywood studios to open their films first overseas.