Around the World Roundup: ‘Slumdog’ Surges

by Conor Bresnan
Slumdog Millionaire

March 5, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire climbed to the top of the foreign box office over the weekend, grossing $16 million from 34 markets (three smaller markets remain unreported) for a $96.5 million total. The Best Picture winner rose 85 percent from the previous weekend, and its biggest single country increase was in Italy (up 556 percent). In the United Kingdom, it regained the lead with a seven percent boost, and it saw sizable bumps in Australia (53 percent to second place), France (61 percent) and Spain (73 percent), where it was No. 1 ahead of The Pink Panther 2's opening. In India, where Slumdog hasn't performed as well as recent local titles Delhi 6 or Chandni Chowk to China, it grew by 470 percent, pushing its total there to $6.3 million.

Slumdog was victorious in its debuts as well. It led in Hong Kong with $1 million (which was the second biggest opening of the year) and in Croatia with $170,419 from 10 screens (the biggest opening in the last four months), and it was second in Poland with $715,677. Still on the horizon for Slumdog are Sweden (March 6), Germany and South Korea (March 19), Japan (April 18), and the picture will likely receive a China release at some point.

After a three-week reign, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button fell to second place. Lacking the Oscar windfall of Slumdog, the fantastical drama slowed 33 percent to $14 million from 61 markets. With $177 million thus far, though, it's on track to pass $200 million, which would make it the 15th picture from 2008 to reach that milestone.

In third place, Gran Torino finally engaged the international market at full throttle, banking $9.7 million from 11 markets over the weekend for an $18.2 million total. Clint Eastwood's action drama, which is 2009's top grosser domestically, has already proven itself in Australia ($7.8 million) and is poised to perform well elsewhere. In France, its $5.5 million opening from 422 screens was Eastwood's biggest. The picture also led Greece with $428,145 and was second to Slumdog in the U.K. with $2.3 million.

Bolt slowed 34 percent to $7.6 million from 39 markets for a $161.1 million running tally. In Belgium, the animated comedy took advantage of school holidays and nearly doubled the previous weekend's gross to gain the lead. Elsewhere, it fell 33 percent in France but dove 57 percent in the U.K. ($22.1 million total). There's only one territory that Bolt hasn't marked yet: Japan, where it opens in August.

Valkyrie rounded out the Top Five, grossing $7.1 million from 53 markets for a $93.7 million total. The thriller's most notable start was in China, where it led with $3.7 million. Valkyrie will finish its foreign campaign this month with stops in Vietnam and Japan.

Outside the Top Five, The Reader improved to $6.1 million from 15 markets for a $20.4 million total. The drama grossed $3.4 million from 359 screens in Germany, the movie's setting. However, that was significantly less than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's opening in January.

Among local releases, Best Foreign Language winner Okuribito (Departures) received a huge boost. The drama led its home market of Japan in its 25th week of release, earning $3.6 million (up nearly 500 percent) from only 189 screens. Before Oscar nominations were announced, it already had an impressive $31.4 million tally, and that has grown to $43 million since. In South Korea, Weonang Sori (Old Partner), the documentary about a man and his cow, led again, down just 16 percent for an $8.7 million total. And topping both of its production nations, Män som hatar kvinnor opened to $2.8 million in Denmark and $2.1 million in Sweden, both the highest of the year.

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