Based on the book by Nathaniel Philbrick, Warner Bros and Village Roadshow’s In The Heart Of The Sea is diving into 38 international territories this weekend and the first numbers are in. The Ron Howard-directed fight for survival story of the crew of the Whaleship Essex grossed $5.5M through Friday. The Thursday take was $2.2M from 6,268 screens in 26 markets with yesterday adding over $3M in the full 38 on 8,500. The footprint now covers about 55% of offshore play. Among highlights are Mexico, Russia and Korea. The U.S. gets the whale tale on December 11.

chris hemsworth heart of the seaA blend of fact and fiction, the 19th century-set tale sees the Essex stalked and attacked by a sperm whale, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism. The attack on the boat largely influenced Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and that author is played here by Ben Whishaw. Chris Hemsworth, who co-starred in Howard’s Rush, plays first mate Owen Chase. The cast also includes Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Frank Dillane and Brendan Gleeson.

Half of the plays here are 3D and there are 156 IMAX dates so far. With Krampus the only other major wide release this frame, ITHOTS staked out some opportunistic dates in specific markets including a long holiday weekend in Italy and Spain. It was moved to December from an original March release to put it in the awards season corridor. Going out this weekend gets the movie on screens for about 10 days ahead of Star Wars which will grab them in all corners, particularly IMAX, starting December 16.

Among comps are Everest ($159M international box office), Captain Phillips ($112M), Unbroken ($48M), Rush ($70M), Master And Commander ($118M) and The Perfect Storm ($146M). In some plays, ITHOTS is tracking above some of those. Reviews thus far have been mixed. It’s got a 64% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 98% want to see. International audiences looking for adult high-seas adventure should turn up, although Bridge Of Spies is another grown-up title that’s in play and expanding as Spectre and Mockingjay continue their runs and kids fare makes up most of the rest of the markets.

Among the key markets that released this frame are Germany, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Korea. In eight markets, ITHOTS is No. 1 including Mexico, where WB says it edged out The Good Dinosaur which is in its 2nd frame there. On 1,560 screens, it has taken $395K (6.6M pesos), outperforming local currency comps for the opening of last year’s Captain Phillips and 2013’s Rush.

Russia is a No. 1 play with a two-day tally of $589K on 1,689 screens. In Italy, ITHOTS rose to No. 1 on Friday, overtaking papal biopic Call Me Francesco. The two-day cume on 489 screens is $328K. Brazil is a No. 2 slot with $365K to date.

Korea has ITHOTS running No. 2 behind local hit Inside Men. Warner has it at $779K, although local reporting puts it higher at $1.7M including today. It’s tracking well ahead of Captain Phillips and Rush. Across the rest of Asia, there are No. 1s in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The total in eight markets in the region is $816K on 1,105 screens.

We’ll have full weekend estimates tomorrow.