'X-Men: First Class' Draws $61 Million at the Foreign Box Office

Magneto's James Bond-Inspired Attitude
Frank Masi/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

"He's the high-thrill, Bond-esque character who's a very snappy dresser," Sheldon says of Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender. "We used a lot of rolled necks and clean cuts." 

UPDATED: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" narrowly beats out the 20th Century Fox film for the No. 1 spot internationally.

Pirates versus X-Men? Pirates notches an easy win.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the dominant international title for two prior successive rounds, took the No. 1 spot on the foreign theatrical circuit for a third consecutive weekend, grossing $69.4 million from more than 19,000 screens in more than 100 markets.

X-Men: First Class, the latest installment of the billion-dollar comic book film franchise from 20th Century Fox, underperformed Sunday’s box office projections by a full $3 million.

According to figures received Monday, the film actually finished not in second but in third place on the weekend, drawing $61 million in its opening round on the foreign theatrical circuit at 8,900 locations in 74 overseas markets.

The actual No. 2 finisher, Warner Bros.’ The Hangover Part II, collected $63.8 million -- $1.8 million more that Sunday’s estimate -- from 7,665 screens in 53 markets, of which 13 were new including Germany ($13 million including previews at 855 screens) and Russia ($5.1 million from 755 spots). Cume for the sequel to 2009’s comedy original (which grossed a total of $191.6 million foreign) totals $154 million after nine days of offshore release.

Fourth on the weekend was DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D via Paramount, which grossed $38.4 million on the weekend -- $1.6 million less than Sunday’s projection -- from 4,737 locales in 26 markets, pushing the animation sequel’s still early foreign gross total to $120.9 million. Panda 2 opens in 17 fresh markets this week.

No. 5 was Fast Five, which boosted its overseas gross total to $367 million thanks to a $10 million weekend at 5,546 locations in 60 territories. A muscular Venezuela opening at 65 playdates generated $1 million for a 46% market share.  An October opening is set for Japan, the final overseas market for the fifth installment of the Universal car action franchise.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn and co-starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: First Class, the fourth sequel of the five-title franchise, pulled No. 1 numbers in some 20 territories. Biggest turnouts came from the U.K. ($8.97 million from 950 sites including previews), France ($7.1 million from 687 sites), Mexico ($5 million from 1,535 situations), South Korea ($5.4 million from 599 sites) and Australia ($5.1 million from 415 locations) 

The mutant superhero saga has since its inception has picked up box office steam internationally relative to domestic action. While the first three titles in the franchise grossed more in the U.S. and Canada, the fourth, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), drew $195.9 million offshore versus $179.9 million domestically.

Original title in the series, X-Men (2000), grossed $139 million on the foreign circuit and $296.3 million worldwide. The first sequel, X-Men 2 (2003), bagged $193.2 million overseas and $408.2 million globally. Top grosser of the franchise is the third sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), which racked up $225.3 million in foreign box office and $459.7 worldwide.

In all, the first four X-Men titles have collectively grossed $1.540 billion globally.

Meanwhile, the latest Pirates sequel pushed its international gross total past the $600-million mark ($600.4 million, more than three times its domestic cume). The Jerry Bruckheimer production starring Johnny Depp is currently the 16th biggest-grossing release ever on the foreign circuit. Its worldwide cume ($790.7 million) makes On Stranger Tides the 31st largest grosser ever released anywhere.

Not coincidentally, the distributors of X-Men and Pirates franchises are closely vying this year for the top spot among the six Hollywood major studios in terms of foreign box office. Both Disney and Fox have already surpassed the $1-billion overseas box office mark this year.

Fox is leading by a whisker so far with $1.109 billion amassed from January through May, down 43 percent from 2010 -- when Avatar was in initial overseas release during the first two months of the year.

The distributor said its 2011 showing (including a May tally of about $158 million, up 222% from May 2010) was driven by Rio (grossing a total of $323.7 million offshore through May), Black Swan ($211.4 million), Gulliver’s Travels ($158.3 million) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ($114.7 million).

While Fox’s January-through-May tally doesn’t include box office results from the latest X-Men title, Disney said it crossed the $1 billion mark (for the company’s 17th consecutive year) largely on the back of On Stranger Tides.

Disney’s 2011 offshore take so far is $1.108 billion. In May, when the Pirates sequel had its record-setting opening on the foreign circuit -- grossing $488 million during the month -- Disney registered a total of $499.4 million, up 159% from the comparable May 2010 figure.

Meanwhile, Paramount said it has grossed $895.2 million in the first five months of this year, up slightly (0.6 percent) from 2010’s comparable time frame. May-only action, however, sunk 27.3 percent from last year to $263.2 million.

Sony reports it has grossed $679.1 million through May, up more than 100 percent from 2010.  May for Sony yielded $50.4 million in overseas box office, up 28 percent from May 2010. World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles (cume $118.9 million) and the Adam Sandler comedy Just Go With It ($111.7 million) were key drivers of Sony’s five-month action.

Universal is also having a solid year so far thanks largely to heavy Fast Five action. January-through-May foreign b.o. figure is $632.8 million, up seven percent from last year with the May-only figure ($311.5 million) increasing 66% from 2010. (Warner Bros. has yet to report year-to-date figures.)

Fox’s animation outing Rio bagged $2.76 million on the weekend from 2,350 venues in 25 territories, hiking its foreign cume to $327.1 million. Paramount’s Thor, director Kenneth Branagh’s screen treatment of the mythic comic book character, has generated total foreign box office of $257.2 million thanks to a $1.1 million weekend at 1,038 locations in 38 markets. 

In France, Mars Distribution’s release of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris dropped three notches to the market’s No. 6 spot, grossing $1.57 million from 493 screens. Market cume stands at $11.6 million.

Also in France, Tree of Life, Terrence Malick’s Cannes Festival prizewinner, alson dropped three rankings to No. 7 with $1.3 million drawn from 351 sites.  The EuropaCorp Distribution release has registered a market total of $5.5 million thus far. Top local language newcomer in France was Pathe’s No. 4-ranked Monsieur Papa, a comedy-drama directed by and co-starring Kad Merad, which opened at 311 sites for $1.8 million.

Other international cumes: Fox’s Black Swan, $214.1 million; Sony, Focus Features and other distributors Hanna, $12.9 million; Focus Features’ The Eagle, $19.6 million; Fox’s Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, $46 million; Universal’s Paul, $53.9 million; Fox’s Water For Elephants, $53.7 million; UGC Distribution’s The Rabbi’s Cat, $1.6 million in France opener at 243 locations;

Also, Sony’s Priest, $42.1 million; Universal’s The Adjustment Bureau, $58.5 million; Gaumont’s La conquete (The Conquest), $5 million in France only; and Universal’s Senna, $3.6 million from three markets including a U.K. and Ireland debut for the racing car driver docu generating $500,000 from 67 screens);  Focus Features’ Biutiful, $19.3 million; Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, $13.6 million; Universal’s Hop, $65.9 million; and Focus Features’ Another Year, $15.2 million.