International box office highlights: Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added $97.4M in its second outing for a $278.4M cume; now running neck-and-neck with An Unexpected Journey. The studio had a record opening in Russia and has been given a China release date of February 21st. Paramount’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the biggest overseas opening weekend ever for a Will Ferrell movie with $13.4M in six territories, almost tripling the first movie’s $5M international career total. Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs landed $13.8M in 40 markets on its debut. Universal’s 47 Ronin bowed No. 1 in Malaysia for an estimated $1.1M at 91 dates, beating its Japanese start two weeks ago of $1.05M at 333 locations. The same studio’s About Time is now the biggest foreign romantic comedy ever in Korea and the studio’s biggest film in the territory this year. India’s Dhoom 3 broke records at home and abroad.
UPDATE: MONDAY, 12:30 PM: Final numbers are arriving to show that The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug actually brought in a higher gross than estimated with a total haul of $97.4M from 16,840 screens in 56 markets, representing a drop of -42% from last weekend’s opening. The international cume to date is now $278.4M and it has edged ahead of the first Hobbit (in the same markets at the same point in release). The worldwide cume is now $406M. Studio expectations are that the sequel will ultimately gross very close to the first Hobbit when all is said and done. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ended with a total international cume of $714.M. The other WBros.’ title in the marketplace, Gravity, also ended up slightly more — $4.1M from 1,769 screens in 32 markets. The international cume to date of $398.8M for Desolation of Smaug now stands just a smidgen higher than its weekend estimate. It currently ranks number one in the UK, Germany, France and Spain in its second weekend. It is still yet to open in Australia (Dec. 26), China (Feb. 21) and Japan (Feb. 28). Totals for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire were higher than estimated. In 86 markets, it took in another $12.2M for a total cume of $394.5M.
The weekend overall was down across distributors by about 27% versus last weekend, but only 9% versus last year, data indicates. According to international estimates, Warner Bros‘ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was the big performer overseas in its 2nd frame, adding $96M on 16,830 screens across 56 markets. The estimated haul was a 43% drop from last weekend’s opening and gives the film a $276.3M cume for parity with 2012′s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the same point in release in the same markets.
Among the new openers, Paramount‘s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues had the biggest debut weekend internationally for a Will Ferrell movie. The sequel to 2004′s Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy opened in six territories outside North America and brought in an estimated $13.4M. That’s kind of a big deal when compared to the first film whose career total overseas was $5M. Ferrell is better-known now outside the States than in 2004, and with the promotional push the movie has gotten this time around, it was a safe bet the follow-up would outperform. Its five-day opening gross in the UK is estimated at $7.4M, or 725% better than the first installment, Paramount says. Australia opened at No. 1 with $5.2M from 243 theaters, nearly seven times the first Anchorman. In New Zealand, the film opened at 64 locations for $480K, slotting in at No. 2 behind the homegrown The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. With $200K at 54 locations in Sweden, Anchorman 2 bested the entire $24K lifetime gross of the first film on its opening day (does it help that Ferrell’s wife is Swedish?). The next international territory to open will be Germany in late January. Latin America opens in early February.
Fox‘s Walking With Dinosaurs roamed for the first time this weekend, breaking into 40 markets for a total estimated haul of $13.8M from 7,576 screens. Of those 40 markets, six are non-Fox distributed. Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale directed the CG/live-action movie that’s based on the 1999 BBC miniseries and a live touring show that was seen by more than 8 million people around the world. The 3D movie was originally financed by Reliance, and Fox picked up U.S. and other international rights back in 2010. The story is set 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period and follows the adventures of an underdog dino named Patchi. The voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar and Skyler Stone. This weekend, the film claimed the No. 2 or No. 3 market share position in most bows.
Universal‘s About Time has become the biggest foreign romantic comedy of all time in Korea with a total estimated cume of $14.2M. The Richard Curtis-directed movie was a strong No. 3 again this week, adding $2.9M at 289 dates. It’s also now Universal’s biggest release of the year in Korea. The international total is now $59.7M. Also in Korea, Dinosaurs scored an estimated $1.39M on 434 screens.
Dinosaurs took an estimated $1.38M in Japan on 600 screens, to place just behind Gravity which now has an international cume of $398.7M. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the next big Hollywood release in Japan on December 27th. Its international cume is estimated at $394.5M after adding $12.2M over the weekend in 86 markets.
MALAYSIA & SINGAPORE
There was brighter news for Universal’s 47 Ronin this weekend after a disappointing couple of frames in Japan. The pricey 3D pic debuted in Malaysia at No. 1 with an estimated $1.1M slice of the box office at 91 dates. If that figure holds, it will best the Japanese bow earlier this month which was $1.05M at 333 locations. An exec had cautioned me this week, “The first weekend in Japan is not remotely indicative of 47 Ronin in other markets.” The film also opened in Indonesia and Singapore. It was No. 1 in the latter with an estimated $1M at 27 dates for a per screen average of over $37K. That looks pretty staggering when compared to 47 Ronin‘s 3rd weekend in Japan where it took $200K at 332 dates. Overseas cume is now estimated to be $6.2M. The movie bows in 27 more territories next weekend after the U.S. and Canada open on December 25th.
Despite some tough reviews, Feng Xiaogang’s comedy Personal Tailor took about $13.18M on Thursday, including $1.97M from midnight previews. According to China.org.cn, that’s a record for the highest grossing midnight showings and makes Personal Tailor the biggest-ever opening for a 2D Chinese film. The release comes as eyes are on what China’s end of year box office tally will be with estimates putting it at a total of about $3.5B. According to the report, Personal Tailor is expected to gross about $165M in total. But when the film first went out last week, backer Huayi Brothers Media took a hit to its share price. The company has come under fire from public investors after a preview of Personal Tailor caused shares to drop by as much as 15.8% last week. The South China Morning Post reports today that disgruntled shareholders have said the firm should not have given institutional investors a preview ahead of retail investors. According to the SCMP, data from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange shows the top three investors that largely dumped Huayi shares on Wednesday were institutions. Huayi said, “The arrangement of the preview was in compliance with both common practices in the industry and the relevant laws and regulations.”
While action thriller Dhoom 3 was racking up North American box office records, it was also breaking takes at home. The Vijay Krishna Acharya-directed film, about a circus star out for revenge when his father dies who goes after the Chicago banker that led to his demise, now holds the all-time opening day record in India with estimates around $6M. In Pakistan, where a short-lived ban on Indian films was recently lifted, it had the biggest first-day opening of any film, ever, with $210K. In Australia, it opened higher than any other Indian film with over $172K. Notably, this is also the first Bollywood title that IMAX has converted. There were 25 theaters opened as of Saturday night. IMAX estimated it would do about $500K on those 25 sites for the weekend at two to three shows per day.
The Desolation Of Smaug opened in the top spot in Russia with an estimated $18.8M from 2,115 screens, giving Warner Bros its biggest-ever weekend opening in the territory. Results there are tracking 12% ahead of An Unexpected Journey. Walking With Dinosaurs grabbed an estimated $1.48M on 1,510 screens, making it the movie’s 2nd strongest territory this weekend.
Universal’s Italian comedy Colpi Di Fortuna opened in its home territory on Thursday, grossing $2.65M at 465 dates. It was No. 3 for the weekend behind The Hobbit sequel and Disney‘s Frozen. Local comedies are a big draw in Italy where the studio expects business to grow during the holidays. Frozen added eight more territories this weekend, including Italy where it brought in $2.9M. In total, it took in $35.1M in overseas box office this weekend for an estimated cume of $152.6M.
Germany added $14.1M to Smaug‘s take, maintaining the No. 1 berth and a total of $38.7M, level with An Unexpected Journey. Frozen is also holding well in Germany, its strongest ex-U.S. country, at an estimated $26.4M. The UK follows close behind at $26.3M. Next week, Frozen bows in Australia, Norway, Denmark, Ukraine, Taiwan, Uruguay, Peru, Panama and New Zealand.
FRANCE & SPAIN
In France, Smaug is running 16% ahead of the first Hobbit, adding $8.7M on 917 screens. Among new U.S. releases in France was Walking With Dinosaurs which took $1.06M on 487 screens. Warner Bros says Smaug earned an estimated $3.9M from 847 screens in Spain, for a cume of $12.8M, which puts it into the Top 10 for the year. Sony’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 placed at No. 3 in its Spanish bow with $1.1M on 612 screens. It grossed an estimated $3.5M overseas this weekend, bringing the international cume to $114M. Belgium, Italy and Japan open this week.
Frozen opened at No. 1 with $5.5M, almost double the opening of Tangled, according to Disney. Walking With Dinosaurs had an estimated $1.08M opening to slot in at No. 3 behind Frozen and The Hobbit.
Universal released 3D Argentinean animated family pic Foosball in Spain and four Latin American territories for an estimated gross of $670K at 466 dates. Chile opened at No. 3 with $122K at 49 dates. Holding in Chile is Fox International Pictures’ co-production Citizen Kramer. In its 3rd weekend, it is still No. 1, dropping by just 6% on its way to $480K from 125 screens. The estimated cume is now $3.3M, making it the biggest Chilean film of 2013 and the 3rd highest grossing Chilean film ever. It’s well-positioned to keep rising as summer vacation starts tomorrow.
UK & IRELAND
Smaug continued its run in the UK with an estimated $8.5M from 1,405 screens. The total there is now $32.4M. The UK was Walking With Dinosaurs‘ top debut market, unsurprising given its pedigree. It opened to $1.6M from 597 dates and landed at No. 4. Animated family pic Moshi Monsters: The Movie opened via Universal in the UK and Ireland this weekend to an estimated $570K at 408 dates and a No. 8 slot. Australia will release on Feb. 20, 2014. Universal will also float All Is Lost in the UK and Ireland on December 26th.