UPDATE and write-thru, 4PM Monday: Star Wars: The Force Awakens dominated the globe in its 2nd frame as it continued to hit intergalactic heights – speeding to the $1B global mark in a record 12 days. With $550.3M of that from international, and China coming on deck January 9, more milestones are on the horizon. For now, it played a fantastic hand in a Christmas week that included the closure of cinemas in some territories in observance – notably the UK where there’s no play on December 25 and which is SWTFA’s biggest ex-U.S. market to date, as well as Australia; along with limited plays in some other markets.
The weekend overall was down about 36% on last session across the Top 10 studio titles playing offshore and SWTFA itself experienced an international drop of 51% in the period with holiday distractions a-jingle. The New Year’s frame doesn’t come with the same kind of obligations and should see steady play and pickup with repeat viewings for Star Wars and folks venturing out who wanted to avoid the mega-masses of the first 10 days.
The Force Awakens has no major releases in the coming frame, pushing it further toward a potential $1B overseas tally. If the film does surpass that benchmark, it would become the 5th ever to do so behind (chronologically) Titanic, Avatar, Furious 7 and Jurassic World. But offshore’s billion-dollar moment most likely will wait until China chimes in January 9. And when it does, many are predicting a sizable opening weekend. Notably, Reuters recently reported that Star Wars has seen about 700K mentions on Sina/Weibo in December; outstripping the chatter of other major 2015 Hollywood releases.
China for now is focused on local films that are wooing auds during the import blackout period. The Top 3 grossed a combined $126M this weekend. Notably, Mojin – The Lost Legend is now at about $187M as it looks to match the result of 2015’s biggest grosser, Monster Hunt (2.428B yuan+). More on the China entries below.
Meanwhile, Ip Man 3, the Hong Kong actioner that was moved off of a December date in China but opened this frame in HK, Malaysia and Singapore, had a strong weekend. Starring Donnie Yen – who’ll next be seen in Star Wars: Rogue One – the film set records in each of those markets but came in below SWTFA on a dollar basis.
As for other players this frame, family fare was the major counter-programmer. The staggered rollout of The Peanuts Movie continued with a slightly lower than projected $24.5M but doing a decent job of countering against the behemoth — stronger in some markets than others. There are 14 more territories to release over the next two weeks. Fox’s other family attraction, Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, meanwhile came in higher than projected at $8.37M and room for furry legs to scurry out in other major markets.
(Figures throughout have been updated by Kinsey Lowe; however actuals were not provided for Warner Bros, Sony and Lionsgate titles.)
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP
Opening in 14 markets, Fox’s cheeky fourquel hightailed it to $8.37M from 2,201 screens. The franchise is strong in family-friendly Brazil which has been among the top markets for the previous films. The $2.86M opening on 946 for Road Chip bested the debuts of Inside Out and Frozen there. Italy rolled to $1.9M on 420 and Australia launched with $1.166M at the start of the summer school holiday period. Alvin expands into the offshore marketplace from January through February, including 12 of the top 15 international markets. The UK, traditionally the franchise’s top play, bows on February 12.
Paramount’s reteam of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell faced off with its first four international markets grossing $4.6M. The releases were on Saturday, following the Christmas holiday, with the UK taking $2.4M from 437 locations. Per Par, the result is 53% above Grown Ups 2, 44% above The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, 38% above Dumb & Dumber To and 19% above The Other Guys. The latter film also starred Ferrell and Wahlberg and is Ferrell’s biggest international grosser to date. Australia also landed the comedy at No. 2 with $2M from 240 sites. In comps, that’s notably 92% above Dumb & Dumber To and 74% over Grown Ups 2. Further territories roll out across the next two weeks.
Fox’s Jennifer Lawrence rags-to-riches tale mopped up $2M from 616 screens in its opening weekend. Australia was a notable launch with $1.23M. The opening day Down Under was 100% and 93% bigger than Lawrence’s recent pairings with helmer David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, respectively. Joy rolls out to 23 markets next weekend, including France, Germany, and the UK.
THE BIG SHORT
Paramount’s financial crisis tale hit France this frame in its debut with $1.5M at 303 locations. The cast is well-known internationally and that along with awards chatter could help it seek sophisticated audiences abroad. In France, it opened at No. 4 on Wednesday behind The Force Awakens and a pair of local family comedies. Upcoming bows include Belgium, Switzerland, the Middle East, Argentina, Italy and Mexico, among others, through January 8.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
With an additional $136.9M overseas, Disney/Lucasfilm’s juggernaut now has an offshore cume of $550.3M. It sped to the $1B mark this weekend, in the shortest span ever (12 days), and has broken several more records following its colossal worldwide bow last weekend. With China yet to release, SWTFA has cumed $106M in IMAX plays globally, beating Jurassic World to the $100M milestone in 12 versus 18 days. Overall, the UK is strong with this one, totaling $97.2M after just 10 days — and notably with Christmas Day seeing cinemas shuttered to make way for in-home festivities (talk about forced family fun). Europe overall is in hyper-drive as is Latin America while Asia has some soft(ish) spots. That is expected to change when BB-8 rolls into the Middle Kingdom on January 9 with Disney having run a savvy campaign to build awareness for the film in a market that has not traditionally been a consumer of the franchise. Otherwise, the mid-weeks were mega, especially in some offshore markets where the holiday is traditionally a distraction. For the full international weekend breakdown on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, see my separate report.
THE PEANUTS MOVIE
Continuing its staggered rollout, Fox added 49 markets over the holiday weekend. With $24.45M on 9,703 screens, the UK, including previews, zeroed in on $5.5M on 775 to take the No. 2 spot in the market behind SWTFA. Mexico, which saw the second biggest opening for the studio in 2015, earned $3.1M from 1,912 screens. Latin America is playing strongly and Japan in its 4th week has amassed $5.12M. The international cume stands at $44.6M, with 14 additional markets releasing within the next two weeks.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
Arlo and Spot continue to roam the earth with a trip Down Under this frame, bowing to $1.8M in Australia on a two-day opening weekend. In total, this frame was worth $8.9M overseas for Disney/Pixar with an offshore cume of $110.7M and a global take of $216.05M. Currently in 51 markets, TGD still has Korea and Brazil on January 7, followed by Japan on March 12, the same frame that saw the debut of Frozen two years ago. Holds have been strong on the title during the holiday season with the Netherlands and Italy up a respective 213% and 16%. Spain, Mexico, France and Belgium saw light dino drops this session.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
After crossing $600M this week, MJ2 added another $6.4M in 78 international markets to bring the offshore cume $352.2M. Worldwide, the gross is $616.8M after six frames. The UK and Germany are still the top plays at $40.9M and $40.5M, respectively.
James Bond targeted another $5.6M for Sony and MGM in the 9th frame in 68 markets total. The offshore cume is now $653.9M with all territories released. Holiday traffic saw a slight 24% drop in Germany‘s 8th frame, taking the cume to $67.8M. France bumped upwards by 6% in its 7th weekend, spying $37.4M in the total. The Netherlands also increased 6% over the Christmas week ($19.9M cume). The UK remains the top market at $143.8M.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
Sony’s Adam Sandler animated comedy released in its final market, Korea, where it came in 3rd for the frame with $4.2M on 685 screens and besting the first film by 83%. Adding a total $5M this weekend from 47 markets, the sequel’s international cume to date is $288.2M.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Fox’s Cold War drama from Steven Spielberg spied $5.4M as it continues in 35 markets. The numbers in Italy are impressive with a 128% increase over the opening weekend and a $4.4M cume to date. Holds elsewhere are strong across the top European markets (France -26%, Spain -33%, Germany -25%). The international take, before Japan releases on January 8, is $67.85M.
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
Over the course of the holiday, Warner Bros’ ITHOTS sailed into the UK on Boxing Day with $824K. The total for the weekend was $2.6M in 55 markets. With that, the overseas cume hits $53.8M. Japan is up next on January 16.
After its strong and groundbreaking run in China, Alcon/DMG/Warner Bros’ remake of the 1991 classic opened in Russia with $1.8M on 1,515 screens. Lionsgate is handling several offshore territories, but will not be reporting this weekend, waiting instead until next week with Australia and Spain included. In China, the extreme sports film made about $40M. WB opens Mexico on January 8.
Legendary and Universal’s holiday haunting scared up an estimated $1.6M in 39 territories at the international box office this weekend. The offshore cume hoofed it up to $15.1M for a worldwide total of $55.6M. Russia is up next this week.
LOCAL LANGUAGE (STUDIOS)
Universal is having a fine end-of-year run at the international box office on three of its local-language titles. In Italy, U’s NATALE COL BOSS held onto the No. 3 spot in its 2nd weekend with a very strong $4.2M at 439 dates, up 176% from last week. That brings the total to $5.9M on the Volfango De Biasi directed comedy of misunderstandings. In France, BABYSITTING 2 is holding strong over the holidays at No. 2 in its 4th week. The weekend saw $2.4M at 541 dates for a 26-day total of $14.9M. It’s currently the No. 5 French-language film of the year. Also from U, SPANISH AFFAIRS 2 is in its 6th week of release in Spain where the weekend estimate was $1.7M at 314 dates. With a 38-day total of $33M, the culture-clash comedy from helmer Emilio Martínez Lázaro is now the highest grossing film of 2015 in Spain and the 3rd highest grossing Spanish film of all time behind Spanish Affair and The Impossible. The latter film was in English, so SP2 is the No. 2 Spanish-language movie ever. It is further the 6th biggest film of all time in Spain behind Avatar, Spanish Affair, The Impossible, Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. From Sony, family film HILFE, ICH HAB MEINE LEHRERIN GESCHRUMPFT (Help, I Shrank My Teacher) was strong in its 2nd weekend holds in both Germany (-22%) and Austria (-29%) to gross $760K from 490 screens. The cume to date is now $2.6M.
ADDITIONAL UPDATED CUMES
CAROL (TWC): $556K weekend for $2.87M in 8 markets with Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe to come; $7.8M WW
STEVE JOBS (UNI): $439K weekend for $7.7M intl cume in 10 markets; $25.4M WW
SISTERS (UNI): $425K for $2.98M intl cume in 10 markets; $40.5M WW; (Offshore rollout continues over next few months)
CREED (WB): $965K for $10.2M intl cume in 11 markets/$106.5M WW; Japan opened to $802K (Offshore roll out continues in majors in early January)
THE WALK (SONY): $830K weekend for $33.1M intl cume/$43.24M WW; Spain debuted with $810K
In China, three films this week contributed to the top of the international chart just behind Star Wars. DEVIL AND ANGEL, directed by (and starring) The Breakup Guru’s Chao Deng and Yu Baimei, grossed $55M for a $79M cume including previews. It also stars Guru’s Betty Sun and earned more than 100M yuan ($15.5M) on opening day, per local media reports. However, it is said to be garnering less than stellar reviews. Comparatively, MR SIX, which debuted as the closing night film of the Venice Film Festival, is tracking to much stronger reviews, yet earned far less on opening day. It nevertheless grossed $27M this weekend in the Middle Kingdom. Director Hu Guan’s actioner sees Feng Xiaogang as a former streetfighter who’s pulled back into the fray and finds the world quite changed. In holdover, MOJIN–THE LOST LEGEND took $44M for a $183M cume since its debut last weekend. Of that, $6M came from 259 IMAX screens for a 10-day cume of $17.6M; the second-highest grossing local language film for IMAX ever in China.
Elsewhere in Asia, the movie that is beating Star Wars in Korea, THE HIMALAYAS, added $14.5M for a $28M to-date cume.