Around the World Roundup: 'Simpsons' Super in Debut

by Conor Bresnan
A scene from The Simpsons Movie
August 2, 2007

The global appeal for The Simpsons Movie unveiled itself over the weekend as the cartoon opened to $96.9 million from 71 markets. It was by far the largest opening ever for an American comedy and even topped the final tally of Wedding Crashers. The Simpsons's 18-year history on television equated to huge awareness and a built-in audience.

Reflecting The Simpsons' massive box office across Europe, the picture faced off with Transformers' opening in the United Kingdom and handily beat the robo-spectacle by 56 percent with a fantastic $27.5 million versus $17.6 million. In France, Simpsons again went head-to-head with Transformers and won. Despite playing on 156 fewer screens, it nabbed $9.5 million from 716 screens compared to Transformers' $6.7 million. In Germany, Simpsons posted a phenomenal $14.2 million from 754 screens, which was bigger than Spider-Man 3's opening earlier this year. Simpsons also excelled in Sweden ($1.8 million from 120 screens), Belgium ($1.8 million from 136) and Spain ($7.2 million from 672).

As great as Europe was for The Simpsons, Latin America fared even better. In Argentina, the comedy notched recorded a smashing $2.3 million from 182 screens, which almost doubled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and topped Shrek the Third to become the year's biggest opening. It followed suit in Chile with a $1.3 million start from 43 screens, which was also the year's best, topping Spider-Man 3. Simpsons was excellent in Venezuela as well, tabulating $755,389 from 97 screens.

The only region where The Simpsons didn't translate was Asia. In the Philippines, it settled for third place (beneath Ratatouille and local hit Ouija) with a meager $397,170 from 50 screens. In Malaysia, its $165,531 from 25 screens was even worse and couldn't beat Transformers in its fifth weekend. It was in Singapore, though, with a top-ranked $558,672 from 33 screens.

Overall, The Simpsons Movie blew away expectations as its $96.9 million weekend was achieved without including previews or extra days (like Spider-Man 3 or Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) and it did not include several major markets like Italy (Sept. 14), Russia (Aug. 16), Japan (March 22) and Mexico (Aug. 1) among several others. This weekend in addition to Mexico, it opens in Denmark, India and Poland.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Tumbling 51 percent to second place, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed $50 million from 59 territories for a $454 million total. The fantasy sequel had one opening, Poland, where it took in less than half of what Shrek the Third did a few weeks ago, making a still impressive $1.8 million from 174 prints. Potter's largest gross came from Germany. Down only 39 percent, it took in $6.3 million for a three-week tally of $46.2 million. In the U.K., though, it dove 57 percent with the arrival of The Simpsons and Transformers, earning $5.8 million for a $76.6 million total. It also fell hard in Japan, off 67 percent from its opening (which included previews) to $5.7 million for a $31.9 million total.

Transformers ranked third with $44.5 million from 47 markets, lifting its total to $249.5 million as it continued to stun in Asia while seeing solid openings across Europe. In addition to France and the U.K.'s openings, it added $1.8 million from 74 screens in Hong Kong, a debut that was considerably lower than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Hong Kong wasn't nearly as receptive to the morphing robots as China, where the picture has already grossed a stellar $31 million. The 'bots transfixed Malaysia as well, reclaiming the top spot against Harry Potter and The Simpsons's debut with $210,338. Its $4.9 million total there is already the year's highest gross. Meanwhile, Transformers added to its already record American take in South Korea, making $1.5 million in its fifth weekend for a $48.2 million total.

Maintaining its solid campaign, Live Free or Die Hard hauled in $10.1 million over the weekend for a $177 million total, ranking fourth. In its second frame in South Korea, it was down 46 percent to $3.1 million for a $16.7 million total. Die Hard 4.0, as the action sequel's known internationally, debuts in Croatia, the Dominican Republic and Slovenia this weekend.

A scene from Ratatouille
Placing fifth, Ratatouille earned $10 million from 20 territories for a $50.9 million total. In Japan, the animated comedy delivered a robust $4.1 million from 553 screens, but elsewhere it didn't pack much punch, including South Korea (a decent $2 million start from 262 screens), Peru ($284,881 from 36 screens) and the Philippines ($597,285 from 60). Holdovers were better such as Mexico where it dropped 21 percent in its fourth weekend to $1.1 million for a $14.2 million total.

Just missing out on the Top Five, but still impressing was May 18, a South Korean drama. It led a crowded market that included the openings of Ratatouille and Evan Almighty with $9.6 million from 549 screens. It was by far the biggest opening of the year for a local picture but well shy of the recent American blockbuster starts.

Knocked Up, which added $3 million over the weekend from four countries, had a nice opening in Russia ($1.9 million from 274 screens). It's the comedy's first foreign language success, which is good news as more than 80 percent of its $13 million overall tally thus far has come from English-speaking Australia.

Meanwhile, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and No Reservations entered the international market for the first time with mediocre results. Chuck and Larry's three-territory debut amounted to just $868,928, even with star Adam Sandler scoring his best opening yet in The Netherlands ($370,673 from 57 screens, which is nothing to brag about). It was moderate in Greece ($156,225) and Taiwan ($342,029) as well. No Reservations had a similar start in Mexico, grossing just $751,088 from 249 screens, ranking fourth. Among similar movies, the debut was a smidgen better than Music and Lyrics from earlier this year.

International Box Office Results
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