Around the World Roundup: 'Sith' Builds Overseas Empire

by Conor Bresnan
May 23, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of Sith crushed the overall foreign opening record with an estimated $145.5 million five-day haul from over 9,000 screens in 114 markets in 105 countries. George Lucas' final prequel topped the previous title holder The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King's $127 million bow and more than doubled Attack of the Clone's $69.1 million debut.

Few individual opening weekend records were broken by Revenge of the Sith. Distributor 20th Century Fox estimates that it only set new highs in Chile and Peru ($748,087) as well as a few smaller territories. It seems its Thursday start, in most nations, made it almost impossible for the movie to achieve such heights, just as it did domestically. Sith did score many opening day records, including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

In the United Kingdom, Revenge of the Sith grossed a staggering $27.5 million (including previews) from 485 screens. In pounds sterling, the opening ranks No. 5 on the all time chart. Sith's entry was by far the best of any Star Wars picture, topping Attack of the Clones by 66 percent and The Phantom Menace by 85 percent. Sith will shoot for The Phantom Menace's $81.9 million total, which would put it in the Top Ten of all time there.

After recording the highest opening day ever for an American movie in France, Revenge of the Sith earned $22.6 million over the weekend from 938 screens, ranking as the highest ever in terms of U.S. Dollars but further down the all time list in terms of Euros. It has already racked up 74 percent of what Attack of the Clones did in its entire run and 52 percent of what The Phantom Menace finished with.

In Germany, Revenge of the Sith's $17.8 million debut from 1,182 screens was the second biggest ever for the territory, behind The Return of the King's $17.9 million. Attack of the Clones opened to $11.8 million, while The Phantom Menace did $12.4 million.

Revenge of the Sith grossed $10.4 million from 535 screens in Australia, topping Attack of the Clones by 12 percent and The Phantom Menace by 15 percent. The improvements are in line with the lowered currency exchange.

In neighboring New Zealand, Star Wars' popularity was booming. Revenge of the Sith earned $1.4 million from 75 screens, the second biggest opening ever there behind The Return of the King's $1.67 million. Sith beat Attack of the Clones by 69 percent and The Phantom Menace by 115 percent.

It was a different story in Spain, which hasn't been as receptive to Star Wars as other markets in the past—for instance, Attack of the Clones earned $15.5 million there compared to Troy's $24.5 million. Revenge of the Sith grabbed $9.7 million from 495 screens, which would be Spain's second highest opening ever behind Return of the King's $9.97 million. Sith surpassed the debuts of The Phantom Menace by 126 percent and Clones by 143 percent.

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen
in Revenge of the Sith
Another market that hasn't been that interested in the Star Wars saga showed signs of improvement. In Italy, Revenge of the Sith scored $4.0 million from an estimated 650 screens, ahead of The Phantom Menace by 5 percent and Attack of the Clones by 48 percent. For perspective, Italy's biggest opening weekend ever is The Return of the King's $10.3 million. One reason for Star Wars' moderate numbers that they usually open in the summertime, which is traditionally when 60 percent of Italy's theatres are shut down. Audiences prefer the beaches to the dark, air conditioned theaters. The Phantom Menace tried to correct the situation with a September bow, but still only managed $12.9 million in its entire run. With no competition ahead, Sith could match that total.

In Russia, Revenge of the Sith grossed $4.5 million. Thanks to the country's ever-growing market, its opening destroyed the other two prequels' debuts by making 100 percent more than them combined.

Revenge of the Sith took in $2.7 million from 129 screens in Sweden, ranking as the fourth biggest opening behind the three Lord of the Rings movies. The Tolkien trilogy also denied Sith the all time record in Denmark, where Lucas' final nabbed $2.2 million. Finland's $856,527 from 66 prints was second only to the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series, and Norway's $1.6 million was only less than the Rings, Shrek 2 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

In Eastern Europe, Revenge of the Sith logged all time top 10 opening weekends in most markets. In Poland, it had the fifth best opening ever with $1.6 million, while, in the Czech Republic/Slovakia, its $516,325 ranked third. Other all time top 10 starts included Hungary's $1.2 million, Bulgaria's $251,994, Croatia's $159,729, Romania's $136,427 and Serbia/Montenegro's $62,284.

In Asia, results weren't that impressive for Revenge of the Sith as it was either on par with the prequels or worse. Thailand's $1.2 million was lower than The Phantom Menace's $1.4 million. Taiwan's $1,280,549 matched Phantom and was 20 percent bigger than Attack of the Clones. Similar comparisons can be made for the Philippines' $841,744, India's $261,686 and Indonesia's $219,384.

Opening day-and-date in China looks to have curbed the enormous piracy problem there as Revenge of the Sith grossed $3.0 million in its first three days. By comparison, The Phantom Menace made $4.1 million in its entire run there.

Figures weren't yet available for Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

In Latin America Revenge of the Sith greatly improved over Attack of the Clones as that film had to wait until June and July to open because of the Soccer World Cup. Revenge of the Sith's Mexican opening was $6,391,240 from 914 screens. The makes Sith the dominate power in theStar Wars universe, beating Attack of the Clones by 45 percent and The Phantom Menace by 88 percent. Other impressive starts include Brazil's $2,312,942, Colombia's $658,195, the Dominican Republic's $72,390, Ecuador's $215,707, Puerto Rico's $1,080,623, and Trinidad and Tobago's $97,394.

Revenge of the Sith performed better than the previous prequels in nearly all markets, often beating them by 50 percent and 100 plus percent improvements were not unusual. It's already the third highest grossing picture of the year and will reach Attack of the Clones's $338.7 million final total within weeks. Sith debuts in South Korea next weekend and in Japan on July 9.

For other movies, business was slow. Revenge of the Sith's world domination hindered any openings, except in South Korea and Japan, and usually sent drop-off rates soaring.

Kingdom of Heaven was most moviegoers' second option at the box office with a $13.5 million weekend gross for a $131.7 million overall total. Grosses were off mainly from 40 percent to 60 percent with the heaviest drop coming from Germany, where the picture fell 64 percent to $1.2 million from 825 screens for a $13.9 million total.

Revenge of the Sith has already muffled Kingdom of Heaven's success, but Ridley Scott's Crusades epic is still on its way to $175 million. In Japan, it was off 41 percent to $1.4 million from 470 screens for a $5.5 million total. Other strong performances include the U.K.'s $1.2 million from 420 screens for a $12.2 million total, South Korea's $657,000 from 224 for a $7.9 million total, Spain's $1.4 million from 435 for an $11.7 million total and Australia's $541,251 from 305 screens for a $5.1 million total.

Almost mimicking the North American box office, Unleashed tumbled 62 percent in its sophomore session in Germany. Next to Revenge of the Sith's debut, it grossed $433,085 from 348 screens for a $2.1 million total.

The Interpreter managed only $3.0 million from 34 territories despite a debut in Japan. Its total climbed to $60.4 million with 16 territories still to open. In Japan, Sydney Pollack's political thriller had a disappointing start, notching just $828,199 from 197 screens for a fourth place finish in Tokyo. Distributor Universal Pictures, however, noted the bow was similar to Double Jeopardy, which it targeted.

Closer went head-to-head with The Interpreter in Japan last weekend, but came up short with $726,870 from 219 screens. Mike Nichols' relationship drama has collected $77.9 million overall.

NOTE: This report was originally published on Sunday, May 22 and was updated on Monday, May 23 with additional and revised information. The original report had an error regarding Revenge of the Sith's Australia performance, incorrectly comparing Sith's U.S. dollar opening to the previous prequels' Australian dollar openings.

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