Movies fend off soccer overseas

'Happening,' 'Hulk' off to $30 million starts

Movies proved over the weekend that they can hold up to overseas soccer hysteria as two summer blockbusters topped $30 million, two went over $20 million, and two exceeded $10 million.

In the face of the June 7 start of the quadrennial European soccer championship that attracts worldwide TV viewers, two new tentpoles -- Fox's "The Happening" and Universal/Marvel Comics' "The Incredible Hulk" -- kicked off to $31.8 million and $31 million, respectively. At the same time, a surprise counterprogrammer -- New Line's "Sex and the City" -- lured another $23.3 million. Steven Spielberg's Indy sequel "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" added $20.7 million to its over-$300 million international cume. Paramount/DreamWorks' animated "Kung Fu Panda," just getting started, came up with $12 million, and Disney/Pixar's staggered release of family entry "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" delivered $11.2 million.

Soccer fans apparently watched the televised soccer matches only on days when the home country played, because there were surprising turnouts for M. Night Shyamalan's paranoid thriller and for "Hulk's" comic book-based superhero.

Overcoming mostly negative reviews, "Happening" gained its narrow victory by dint of a massive release on 5,693 screens in 61 markets while "Hulk's" total came from 3,417 playdates in 38 territories. "Happening" opened at No. 1 in five markets, including France ($4.8 million from 550 screens), Spain ($3.4 million from 385) and Italy ($2 million from 371). "Hulk," meanwhile, opened at No. 1 in 17 countries, grossing $6.4 million in the U.K., $4.4 million in Mexico, $4 million in Russia, $3.4 million in Korea, $1.9 million in Australia and $1.8 million in Brazil. For "Hulk's" weekend total, $28.8 million came from territories handled by Universal Pictures International and $2.2 million came from Australia and New Zealand, where it was distributed by Paramount Pictures International.

According to Universal, "Hulk" will be released in 23 more territories over the next seven weeks, with 10 more openings this weekend, including Italy on June 18 and Spain -- through Sony International -- on June 20.

"Sex" held its own through the soccer madness, reaching a cume of $136 million after its weekend take of $23.3 million from 5,597 screens in 41 markets. At its third weekend in Germany, "Sex" held the No. 1 spot, tallying $2.5 million from 836 screens for a market cume of $17.3 million. In the U.K., "Sex" has taken in $40 million in three weekends. Australia has delivered $15 million; France, $14 million; Italy, $9 million; and Korea, $4.7 million.

"Crystal Skull," set to open in Japan this weekend, hit a cume of $358 million after adding $20.7 million from 6,506 screens in 49 territories. Its market cume to date includes $70.2 million from the U.K., $34.2 million from France, $24.8 million from Germany, $27.1 million from Spain, $24.8 million from Germany, $24.5 million from Korea, $17.2 million from Italy, $12 million from Brazil and $10.7 million from Mexico.

"Kung Fu Panda" -- with new openings in such markets as Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, the Middle East, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates -- hit $39.3 million after its $12 million take from 1,607 screens in 15 countries.

With the summer tentpoles of "Crystal Skull," "Panda" and "Iron Man" -- which reached $209.2 million after a near-end-of-run $1.1 million weekend -- leading the charge, Paramount Pictures International topped $1 billion in international boxoffice receipts in less than six months of the second year of its stand-alone operation.

In Japan, "Prince Caspian" held the No. 2 spot, tallying $23 million in four weeks, while Mexico contributed $18 million in five weeks. The family-faith offering held at No. 1 in China in its second weekend, taking in $2 million from 480 screens for a market cume of $8.2 million. The film is set to open in France and the U.K. at the end of June, and will reach Spain and Scandinavia during July, and Italy in August.

Other weekend action: "What Happens in Vegas," $4 million (cume: $115 million); "Made of Honor," $2.9 million (cume: $39.2 million); "21," $2.5 million (cume: $63.6 million); "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," $1.8 million (cume: $26.7 million), "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," $1.3 million (cume: $4.6 million); and "Speed Racer," $1.2 million (cume: $37.6 million).