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International Box Office: ‘Robocop’ Stomps Into Asia; ‘Monkey’ Is King In China; Russian ‘VIY’ Breaks Records; ‘Smaug’ Hits $600M

By Nancy Tartaglione

February 2, 2014

There are strong debuts and holds for Hollywood in the international marketplace this week, despite a drop of about 25% from the similar frame last year when Django Unchained was the top film overseas. (Last week, international box office was off about 50%, so that’s an improvement of sorts.) Still, a fair few movies are making, and breaking records — especially in China. While Monday-morning quarterbacks have been gearing up for today’s Super Bowl, in the rest of the world where football is played without shoulder pads and where the Big Game isn’t due til this July, audiences flocked to movies in such diverse places as China, Russia, Germany, Korea and France. Notably, the Chinese New Year began on January 31 and with it came The Monkey King. The film took $46M in seven territories, and broke records at home, while TV reality series transfer Dad, Where Are We Going? grossed $34M (more below).

The only new studio entry on the international scene this week was MGM and Columbia Pictures’ Robocop which blasted its way into three territories in Asia. The movie, starring Joel Kinnaman, strategically bowed in Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore – taking advantage of the Chinese Lunar New Year – and scored a strong opening with $5.5M and a No. 1 trifecta. Robocop does not yet have a China date, although that’s expected to be clarified shortly. Kinnaman plays the detective-turned-crime-fighting cyborg in the re-make of the 1987 sci-fi pic that’s helmed by super-hot Elite Squad director Jose Padilha. It will land in Latin America – where Padilha has a big following – after it rolls out next weekend in 40 international territories. It opens in the U.S. on February 12.

Russia, which is consistently delivering for the studios, provided another hit this week. After welcoming 47 Ronin and I, Frankenstein with open arms recently, the territory turned to a local film, but one that’s released by Universal. Fantasy/adventure VIY (see trailer at the end of this post) broke a number of records, including beating last year’s Stalingrad for the best-ever opening for a Russian movie with an estimated weekend gross of $17.7M.

Also from Universal, The Wolf Of Wall Street, which the studio is releasing in nine European territories, has now earned an estimated cume of $73.2M in those countries, adding $14.2M at 1,820 dates this weekend. Overall, it added $26M, according to Rentrak. In Germany and the UK, it just became director Martin Scorsese’s highest-grossing film ever. Universal’s 47 Ronin continued its roll out with an estimated $7.4M from 3,000 dates now in 44 territories. Its international cume is $92M. It still has seven territories to go.

Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug has China and Japan on the horizon, but this week hit the $600M mark internationally. The sequel added $2.7M across 1,714 screens in 50 territories. Germany remains tops for the film with $87M to date, followed by the UK with $70M and France at $50.5M. Meanwhile, Frozen, which just won the Annie Awards top prize and will open in China this week, became the highest grossing animated film of all-time in Korea in its 3rd weekend, and in Denmark in its 6th weekend. The animated Oscar nominee also posted the highest animation weekend of all-time in Sweden ($2.2M) and Korea. In the latter, it jumped 45% in its 3rd frame versus the previous weekend. Internationally, Frozen passed Shrek 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 this weekend to become the 8th highest grossing international release of all-time — with the codicil that the figure is based on original runs and not including re-releases – and the 2nd highest grossing original IP animated release of all-time, behind Finding Nemo. International box office now stands at an estimated $504.4M with the UK its best territory at $59.5M.

In other news, 12 Years A Slave has now cumed $51.5M mark internationally adding $9.8M in 40 markets. Fox’s The Book Thief opened No. 1 in Brazil and continued its run elsewhere to tally a $23.6M cume to date ahead of openings next weekend in France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Paramount’s franchise reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit grossed an estimated $9.1M from 55 territories with 16 new markets in the mix. It opened No. 1 in France and has a to-date haul of $61.1M (compred to $38.9M in the US). Universal’s Despicable Me 2 brought its international cume to $602M this weekend with an extra 450K at 60 dates in two territories (China included). Universal says it’s only the 4th animated picture in history to cross such a milestone. Here’s a breakdown of this weekend’s overseas box office:

Universal has VIY (or ‘V’) in Russia. The fantasy film scored the best ever opening for a local title, overtaking last year’s megahit StalingradVIY 3D conjured up an estimated $17.7M over the weekend at 1,030 dates. Stalingrad last October had about $14.3M in its opening weekend and went on to become the biggest local film in history. VIY is also Universal’s biggest opening ever in Russia which is proving to be an increasingly lucrative market. VIY is English-language and has a British and Russian cast that includes Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance.

The Lunar New Year started in China on January 31, front-loaded with local films to take advantage of the holiday. The Cheang Pou-soi directed The Monkey King opened with a record breaking first day of $20M on about 8,600 screens, per FilmBizAsia. The 3D and IMAX 3D fantasy film stars Donnie Yen and beat Iron Man 3’s $17.3M opening day record as well as setting the best gross for a film on Lunar New Year’s Day. It also crossed the 100M yuan mark in record time. Another local film, Where Are We Going, Dad?, based on the reality TV show, made $14.6M to score the highest gross for a local 2D film. FBA reports the documentary averaged 87 admissions per screening, putting it higher on opening day than Monkey King’s 81 admissions per screening. Also performing strongly was comedy From Vegas To Macau with Chow Yun Fat. It opened to $4.09M. Over the 2013 Chinese New Year holiday, Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons held the top spot for a week, earning $84.1M. It ended 2013 as the year’s top grosser with over $200M. Hollywood films still in the market include Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which added $300K on 2,800 screens for a local cume of $24.3M. Despicable Me 2 is also still playing with a 24-day gross now at $48.5M and a worldwide cume of $970M. Frozen opens February 5.

The Wolf Of Wall Street was No. 1 again with an additional $4.2M estimated from 502 locations and a cume of $24.7M. It is now director Martin Scorsese’s biggest grosser ever in the UK and Ireland combined. Jack Ryan fell 45% for $1.2M from 460 dates and an estimated cume of $4.1M. Peter Berg’s war pic Lone Survivor, which Universal has in the UK and Ireland, opened No. 4 with an estimated $1.3M at 389 dates. Universal opens it on February 20 in Italy and later on in Korea. 12 Years A Slave earned an estimated additional $2.4M to place at No. 2 this weekend. I’ll note that this all comes during a week where the British Film Institute reported a massive uptick in local production spendJack Ryan shot at Pinewood, one of many Hollywood movies to do so in 2013. It’s movies like those that are angling for space in the country that’s become a big draw for Hollywood. But the number of local movies with a budget of over £500K has dropped, and one marvels at the fact that out of a total production spend of $1.77B, about $1.4B came from 37 international movies. The UK box office was down a fraction this year, impressive after the year of Skyfall, but I wonder if the influx of productions which come with certain needs does not hamper the local biz. A voir, as we say across the Channel…

Japan’s overall box office dipped 0.5% in 2013 with $1.88B in takings. The country had already lost ground to China in 2012 when the latter surpassed it as the No. 2 box office market worldwide. Homegrown movies have been doing well, but Hollywood has faced an increasingly uphill battle to satisfy local tastes. Still, according to official figures reported by FilmBizAsia, local movies in Japan experienced a decrease in revenue of 8.2%, despite a market share of over 60% in 2013. Imports jumped 14.2%. Compared to the rapid increase in screens in China – that famous “10-a-day” refrain – Japan’s screen count remained relatively stable in 2013. Takashi Yamazaki’s period drama The Eternal Zero has been enjoying a positive run for several weeks now and as of the end of last week had taken over $57M. Jack Ryan opens February 15 in Japan.

Robocop booked an estimated $2.3M from 233 screens for the No. 1 slot in Malaysia. In Taiwan, it was No. 1 with an estimated $1.8M from 140 screens and a strong $13,000 average. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit took an estimated $897K from 67 locations in Taiwan. In Singapore, Robocop dominated the city-state with a $22K per screen average for $1.3M. Universal released Jackie Chan-starrer Police Story 2013 on Wednesday in time for the Lunar New Year kick-off and placed at No. 8 for an estimated $861K at 237 dates.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit pulled $1.9M at 394 dates. The movie is getting a big advertising push from Canal Plus and – in what looks like a nod to the Bourne films – is going by the title The Ryan Initiative12 Years A Slave is looking at a possible $2.9M gross in its 2nd weekend on 433 screens.

The Wolf Of Wall Street held the No. 1 slot with an estimated $4.7M at 623 dates and an 18-day total of $20.1M. It is now the highest-grossing Martin Scorsese title of all time in the territory. Two spots down, 47 Ronin opened at No. 3 with an estimated $1.9M from 452 dates. Universal’s English-language local film The Physician was just ahead at No. 2, continuing its 40-day run with an added $2M at 601 dates. Its cume now stands at about $38.4M. Universal also has the film in Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland. 12 Years A Slave added an estimated $802K from 205 screens.

American Hustle drew Spanish crowds this weekend for a No. 1 opening with an estimated $2.3M. Jack Ryan was also sleuthing his way around the Iberian peninsula with $752K from 306 sites. El Lobo De Wall Street had the No. 2 spot in its 3rd weekend with an extra $2.4M at 208 dates for an estimated 17-day total of $11.4M. I spent a few days in Spain this week where it was anything but cloudy. Still, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 had a strong hold in its 7th frame, down just 8% to add a further $285K for an estimated cume of $6.5M

Fox’s The Book Thief stole into Brazil with a No. 1 opening on an estimated $1.3M at 265 dates. Behind it was 47 Ronin with $1M at 205 dates. In Chile, The Book Thief also opened No. 1 with an estimated $121K. 47 Ronin opened at No. 2 with $1M at 205 dates. Jack Ryan goes out this Friday

Keanu Reeves-starrer 47 Ronin was the No. 1 opener with an estimated $2.2M at 575 locations for 25% of the market. The expensive movie still has seven territories to go. After hitting $92M this weekend internationally, might it cross $100M? Fox’s Devil’s Due was No. 2 with an estimated $1.1M from 675 screens. The film now has an international cume of $9.5M. American Hustle is released by Sony Pictures Releasing International south of the border where it earned an estimated $335K in its 3rd weekend for a cume of $2.5M. The Book Thief in its 3rd weekend was down 26% at 265 dates and an additional $390K.

12 Years A Slave picked up an estimated $1.7M from 122 screens for the No. 2 spot in its debut. Wolf Of Wall Street was No. 1. Jack Ryan took an estimated $485K from 232 sites for a cume of $4.5M. The Book Thief was down 32% for a No. 3 slot in its 4th frame, adding $911K for a local cume of $9.77M.