Cars 2 quickly raced in to first place overseas this weekend, and the numbers, at least initially, may have commercially validated Disney-Pixar's decision to give the sequel a drastic international makeover. Another animated sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, wasn't far behind, while Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides moved ever closer to the coveted $1 billion mark.
Cars 2 debuted to an estimated $42.9 million from 18 territories (or around 25 percent of the foreign market). According to distributor Walt Disney Pictures, this opening was up 127 percent from the first Cars in the same markets and was also a marked improvement over Up and Ratatouille. Remarkably, though, Cars 2 also tracked four percent ahead of Toy Story 3, which went on to earn a Pixar-best $648.2 million overseas last year.
Leading the way for Cars 2 was a $9.3 million start in Russia, which was more than the entire runs of the first Cars and Toy Story 3. The animated sequel also cruised to wins in Mexico ($8.1 million), Brazil ($7.6 million) and Australia ($5.2 million). Cars 2 had a strong start in Italy as well, though its $5.7 million wasn't remarkable considering the movie prominently features an Italian racecar and one of the major races is set in Italy.
The first Cars was one of Pixar's poorest performers overseas with $217.9 million. This was attributed to its small-town America setting and focus on the distinctly American racing sport NASCAR. The studio took major steps to broaden the foreign appeal for the second installment, adding an international espionage plot while sending Lightning McQueen on a World Grand Prix with stops in Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom. Based on the initial results of Cars 2, it's in great shape to significantly out-perform its predecessor, and a final tally north of $400 million appears to be a good target.
After leading for the last two weekends, Kung Fu Panda 2 eased 37 percent to $36.7 million from 56 markets. It's only major opening came in Australia, where it took second place behind Cars 2 with $4.8 million. The animated sequel has earned $340.8 million overseas for a worldwide total (domestic plus foreign) of $493 million, and it will join the $500 million club in the next few days.
The Hangover Part II added another $16.5 million from 56 territories, which was propped up by a solid $2.9 million start in Spain (including previews). The comedy sequel has grossed an impressive $284 million overseas, and its worldwide figure reached $527.7 million. It passed Meet the Fockers ($516.6 million) to become the highest-grossing live action comedy ever, excluding hybrids like Night at the Museum.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fell 49 percent to an estimated $13.5 million, which brought its incredible foreign total to $756.1 million. On Thursday, Pirates passed The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to become the third highest-grossing movie ever overseas behind the James Cameron movies Avatar and Titanic. Including its domestic earnings, Pirates has tallied $985.2 million worldwide and is on pace to cross the $1 billion mark by Saturday at the latest.
X-Men: First Class, added $13 million for a total of $185.9 million. By next weekend, it will pass X2 and Wolverine to become the second highest-grossing entry in the series behind The Last Stand. A completely different school-oriented movie, Bad Teacher, expanded in to 24 markets and earned $12.4 million. Its best debut came in Germany, where it took first place with $6.1 million. Through its second weekend, the Cameron Diaz comedy has earned $17.8 million.
Arguably the most successful movie domestically so far this Summer, Bridesmaids showed some serious overseas muscle as well. The movie earned $11.3 million from 11 territories for an early total of $21.1 million. That included a strong $5.8 million first place debut in the U.K. and a decent $1.3 million start in Russia. Bridesmaids is set to roll out in to more territories over the next few months, starting with the Netherlands on July 7 and Germany on July 21.
Super 8 had its best opening so far this weekend with a $4.9 million first place debut in Japan; including all 29 of its territories, the movie made $10.1 million. Through its third weekend in fairly limited international release, the J.J. Abrams-Steven Spielberg thriller has earned $35.8 million.