'Potter' works magic at int'l b.o.

'Phoenix' bows to $190.3 mil; WBI tops $1 bil mark

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" opened a powerful No. 1 on the international circuit during the weekend, setting a record for the franchise by grossing an estimated $190.3 million from more than 12,000 screens in 44 territories. Worldwide, its opening tally stands at $330.3 million.

Not only did the fifth "Harry Potter" register the biggest opening surge in the profitable franchise's history, but it propelled distributor Warner Bros. International past the $1 billion overseas gross mark this year (to an estimated $1.15 billion).

"Phoenix," which began its graduated rollout Wednesday, fell shy of the international opening grosses of Sony's "Spider-Man 3" ($231 million in its first six days) and Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($216 million in its first five days).

Nonetheless, "Phoenix" finished No. 1 in all the markets in which it played and dwarfed the competition by grossing nearly $100 million more than the combined weekend tallies of all other titles.

In the U.K., the four-day opening estimate for "Phoenix" was a record $32.5 million from 1,390 screens. Germany registered $18.8 million from 1,300 situations. France chipped in with $16.9 million from 950 locales. Australia tallied $14.4 million from just 500 screens. Korea furnished $12.1 million from 390 sites, while Mexico provided $10 million from 1,030 screens. Upcoming this week are openings in Japan and Russia.

"Transformers," the previous weekend's No. 1 title, finished second overall, grossing an estimated $35.9 million from 3,793 screens in 33 territories and raising its international gross to $146.4 million. Worldwide, the Michael Bay action title, derived from a popular toy line and animated TV series, has grossed $369.4 million.

In China, "Transformers" debuted in gangbusters fashion by recorded the biggest opening-market gross for any foreign feature, an estimated $12.6 million from 300 screens (for a lofty per-screen average of $42,000).

"Shrek the Third" took the No. 3 spot for the weekend with an estimated $18.7 million from 5,390 locations in 54 markets, hoisting its international gross to $361.5 million, of which $61.1 million comes from the U.K. and $38.3 million from France.

At No. 4 is 20th Century Fox International's "Die Hard 4" (released domestically as "Live Free or Die Hard"), which grossed an estimated $17.7 million from about 6,900 screens in 49 territories. That raised the Bruce Willis action sequel's international gross to $123 million versus the comparable North American total of $102.9 million.

Strong holdover action in Latin American markets for Disney/Pixar's animated "Ratatouille," the weekend's No. 5 title internationally, resulted in an estimated tally of $5.8 million from 2,098 screens in 13 territories. The film's overseas gross stands at $30 million. Worldwide, Remy the rat and friends have realized a gross of $173 million.

"At World's End" continues to pillage overseas, grossing an estimated $4.4 million from 4,746 screens in 96 territories. The weekend action lifts the film's foreign tally to $634.8 million, the fifth-biggest international gross total in history.

"At World's End" is now just $7.4 million behind the No. 4 all-time foreign title, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," currently the reigning boxoffice champ of the "Pirates" series. Worldwide, "At World's End" has accumulated $939 million, making it the fifth-largest boxoffice hit of all time.