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Pirates versus X-Men? Pirates win.
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the dominant international title for two prior successive rounds, narrowly 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, finished No. 2 on the weekend, drawing $64 million in its opening round on the foreign theatrical circuit at some 8,877 locations in 74 overseas markets – for an per screen average of slightly more than $7,200.
Ranking a close No. 3 was Warner Bros.’ Hangover 2, which collected $62 million from 7,550 screens in 53 markets, of which 13 were new including Germany ($12.6 million including previews at 855 screens) and Russia ($5 million from 755 spots).
Cume for the sequel to 2009’s comedy original (which grossed a total of $191.6 million foreign) totals $151.5 million after nine days of offshore release, which Warners said was 78% of the entire foreign run of the original. Hangover Part 2 finished No. 2 domestically; worldwide gross stands at $338.4 milion.
Fourth on the weekend was DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D via Paramount, which grossed $40 million on the weekend overall from 9,104 locales in 28 markets, pushing the animation sequel’s still early foreign gross total to $125 million – nearly $25 million more than its domestic cume.
No. 5 was Fast Five, which boosted its overseas gross total to $366.5 million thanks to a $10 million weekend at 6,820 locations in 63 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 costarring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: First Class, the fourth sequel of the five-title franchise, pulled No. 1 numbers in at least 20 territories. Biggest turnouts came from the U.K. ($9 million from 950 sites including previews), France ($7.7 million from 687 sites), Mexico ($5.3 million from 1,535 situations), South Korea ($5.2 million from 599 sites) and Australia ($5 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.
Fox said that in the same basket of foreign markets, First Class outdrew the original X-Men 196%, X-Men 2 by 127% and X-Men Origins: Wolverine by 105%. First Class opened No. 1 domestically, and is off to a worldwide gross of $120 million.
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% 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, Sony reports it has grossed $679.1 million through May, up more than 100% from 2010. May for Sony yielded $50.4 million in overseas box office, up 28% 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. (Paramount and Warner Bros. have yet to report year-to-date figures.)
Fox’s animation outing Rio bagged $2.8 million on the weekend from 2,508 venues in 25 territories for a foreign cume of $326.5 million. Paramount’s Thor, director Kenneth Branagh’s screen treatment of the mythic comic book character, has generated total foreign box office of $258 million thanks to a $1.6 million weekend at 2,990 locations in 60 markets.
In France, Mars Distribution’s release of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris dropped to the market’s No. 5 spot, grossing an estimated $1.2 million from 450 screens, a dip of 13% from the prior weekend. Market cume stands at 10.2 million.
Also in France, Tree of Life, Terrence Malick’s Cannes Festival prizewinner, dropped to No. 7 with an estimated $1 million drawn from 350 sites. The EuropaCorp Distribution release has registered a market total of $4.4 million thus far. Top local language newcomer in France was Pathe’s No. 4-ranked Monsieur Papa, a comedy-drama directed by and costarring Kad Merad, which opened at 350 sites for an estimated $1.4 million.
Other international cumes: Fox’s Black Swan, $$214.1 million; Sony and other distributors' Hanna, $13.6 million; Fox’s Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, $46 million; Universal’s Paul, $53.8 million; Fox’s Water For Elephants, $53.6 million; UGC Distribution’s The Rabbi’s Cat, $1.1 million in France opener at 225 locations; Sony’s Priest, $42.2 million; Universal’s The Adjustment Bureau, $58.4 million; Gaumont’s La conquete (The Conquest), $4.6 million in France only; and Universal’s Senna, $3.5 million from three markets including a U.K. and Ireland debut for the racing car driver docu generating $500,000 from 67 screens).
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