News

Around the World Roundup: 'Madagascar' Squeaks Past 'War'

by Conor Bresnan
July 21, 2005

Madagascar narrowly beat War of the Worlds at the foreign box office, though business was marred by Europe's heat wave that cut ticket sales by at least 15 percent. The computer-animated critter comedy grossed $30.5 million from 35 territories over the weekend for a $144.7 million total, while Steven Spielberg's alien disaster grabbed $29 million from more than 60 territories for a $255.4 million total. Both movies are distributed by United International Pictures.

Germany was Madagascar's highlight over the weekend, posting $8.5 million from 833 screens. It was shy of Shrek 2's $9 million, but topped Ice Age by 12 percent and Robots by 270 percent. Animated pictures haven't fared too well in Germany in the past, with the notable exception of Finding Nemo's $13.3 million. Local family fare dominates the market, making Madagascar's more impressive. The opening in neighboring Austria was equally strong with $1 million from 110 screens.

In the United Kingdom—a traditionally potent market for animated pictures—Madagascar was a little disappointing with $6.5 million from 506 locations, falling short of most of the recent animated features. However, in South Korea, where it's being handled by CJ Entertainment, it grossed $3.5 million from more than 300 screens, the second best animated debut ever behind Shrek 2's $4.7 million. In Hong Kong, it nabbed $1.1 million from 52 screens to narrowly top Fantastic Four's debut, and, in Taiwan, it made $1 million from 93 screens.

Madagascar still has several European markets left, including Italy and Scandinavia, as well as Japan, and is on course to a $200 million plus foreign haul—in line with the trend of computer animated features consistently topping their domestic totals internationally.

War of the Worlds had depressing drop-off rates in its third weekend, falling more than 47 percent in nearly all European markets. The movie was down 48 percent in the U.K. for a $39.8 million total and 60 percent in Germany for a $16 million total. In France, it tumbled 61 percent for a $16.3 million total, but Russia took the crown with an 83 percent slide for a $9.4 million total.

Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds
Scandinavia was the one bright spot for War of the Worlds. In Sweden, the picture climbed 4 percent in its third weekend for a $1.75 million total. Denmark was off only 8 percent with a $1.65 million total, and Finland was down 26 percent for a $795,000 total.

War of the Worlds is also running out of thrills in Hong Kong (down 78 percent), Australia (down 44 percent), Mexico (down 42 percent) and South Korea (down 61 percent). In Japan, it had a discouraging 33 percent drop for a $34 million total. Playing nearly everywhere, the movie's final market will be China on Aug. 26.

Fantastic Four kept an impressive pace in its early run, adding $20.1 million for a $44.7 million total. The Marvel Comics adaptation opened in first place in most of its territories, led by Spain's $4.3 million from 427 screens and Russia's $1.1 million from 306.

Several smaller territories cracked some records. In Hong Kong, Fantastic Four narrowly lost out to Madagascar with a $1 million debut from 57 screens, but it still posted distributor Fox's third biggest non-holiday opening. In Malaysia, the movie scored $561,000 from 83 for Fox's fourth biggest opening weekend. In Venezuela, its $368,000 debut from 70 screens was Fox's best ever as well as the market's second biggest behind War of the Worlds. The picture also opened in Sweden with a first place $514,652 opening from 82 screens.

Among holdovers, Fantastic Four stayed on top in Mexico with a massive $3.5 million weekend from 929 screens. Its $13 million total there is just $2 million away from Revenge of the Sith's. It also stayed at No. 1 in Australia ($5.8 million total) and Brazil ($4.2 million total).

Christian Bale in Batman Begins
Scandinavia rejuvenated Batman Begins' international campaign as the Caped Crusader collected $5.6 million from 93 markets over the weekend for a $142.9 million total. In Norway, it grossed $604,256 from 73 screens, bettering the past debuts of X2: X-Men United, The Last Samurai (by 33 percent) and Van Helsing (by 47 percent) despite the dilapidated summer season. Its $262,400 start from 45 screens in Finland bested X2 by 24 percent and The Last Samurai by 48 percent. Openings in Eastern Europe, however, weren't impressive. In the Czech Republic, it opened in second with just $46,395 from 22 screens.

Johnny Depp
The French-speaking territories tasted Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in large numbers. In France, Tim Burton's adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel amassed $3.8 million from 670 screens, opening in second place but on par with the debut of Madagascar, which has grossed $15.7 million to date there. The movie also bowed in Belgium ($247,396 from 60) and French Switzerland ($189,060).

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith maintained light speed in Japan, adding $7 million from 750 screens for a $31.1 million total. Its 26 percent fall (excluding previews) was a bit steep, but still helped earn Fox's second biggest weekend ever. The foreign total climbed to $408 million.

In its second weekend in China, Mr. and Mrs. Smith remained No. 1 with $1.1 million from 450 screens for a $4.6 million total. Its international total rose to $144 million.

Three pictures had their foreign debuts over the weekend. None of them were out of the gate sprinting.

In Germany—the haven for ribald R-rated comedy—Wedding Crashers mustered only $644,607 from 364 screens, ranking fourth. To put that into perspective, the original American Pie opened with $5.1 million. Results were also flaccid in Austria ($170,245 from 52) and German-speaking Switzerland ($89,378 from 47). The Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy was much more potent in the U.K. with a third place $3.8 million from 580 screens.

George A. Romero's Land of the Dead launched in two markets; one good and one bad. In Italy, the final installment in the director's zombie quadrilogy nabbed second place, grossing $416,125 from 148 screens. In Mexico, it was lifeless with $146,853 from 75 screens. At this rate, it will be lucky to top $20 million overall.

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl began in Mexico with a mediocre $685,021 from 340 screens, ranking third. The Robert Rodriguez kid adventure also opened at sixth place in Argentina with a moderate $118,419 from 50 screens. It, too, will have trouble reaching $20 million overall.

The other Rodriguez picture, Sin City, had a $2.1 million weekend from 28 territories, pushing its foreign tally to a solid $40.2 million. The highlight was Australia's third place $1.45 million debut from 223 screens. The picture has had impressive runs in Italy ($5 million), France ($7.8 million) and the United Kingdom ($12.7 million). It hits Finland, Greece and Mexico next weekend.



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