Around the World Roundup: 'Lion' Roars Back with Japan Debut

by Conor Bresnan
Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles of Narnia
March 8, 2006

At an otherwise unenthusiastic foreign box office, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe renounced tepidity with a blockbuster opening in Japan. The family fantasy's first place launch was Buena Vista International's best mark there ever with $9 million from 655 screens.

Japan propelled Narnia to a $9.8 million weekend overall, topping the international box office for the sixth time and hoisting its total to $388.3 million. China's opening next weekend along with continued success in Japan should push the movie past the $400 million mark.

Oscar nominees and winners comprised most of the other top grossing pictures. Syriana came in second place with $7.9 million from 40 markets, pushing its total to $19.1 million. In the United Kingdom, the political thriller grossed $1.5 million from 236 screens to rank second, and, in Spain, it nabbed $1.3 million from 206 prints, also second. It didn't fare well in its Japan debut, though, making a mere $505,000 from 178 screens. Second weekend holds were strong in Italy ($2.6 million total) and Germany ($2.5 million) with drop-off rates below 30 percent.

Brokeback Mountain showed more stamina, grossing $4.5 million for a $59 million total. In Mexico, the romantic drama posted the highest per screen average in the Top 10 with a second place $700,000 opening at 150 screens. The U.K. is the picture's top market with a $16.7 million haul.

Memoirs of a Geisha yielded $4.3 million over the weekend, lifting its total to $87.8 million, but its biggest new market was Belgium, where it unearthed only $198,915 from 29 screens.

Geisha's dwindling run is comparable to Munich, which has opened in all major markets. The Steven Spielberg drama grossed $2.2 million over the weekend for a $76.1 million total.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
Capote, early in its run, struggles to make money. The American drama has little playability outside of its awards buzz, grossing just $2.1 million from 14 opening territories and 18 holdovers. In Germany, for instance, it landed in 13th place in Germany with a mediocre $284,416 from 57 screens.

Among popcorn fare, The Pink Panther snared $4 million over the weekend, mainly from Spain's $1.9 million second outing. New arrivals in Belgium ($335,000), the Netherlands ($268,000) and Sweden ($182,000) were decisively average. The Steve Martin comedy has $18.2 million in the till.

Russia was Fun with Dick and Jane's last major market, and the Jim Carrey comedy was strong with $1.3 million from 273 screens. Overall, it grossed $4.3 million for an $80.7 million total.

Ending its foreign campaign, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit bowed in Italy but didn't go out with a bang, settling for second place with $1.4 million from 215 screens. Distributor United International Pictures had massive success on the same frame in the past with both Shark Tale ($4 million) and Shrek 2 ($4.2 million).

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