Coming off of six Oscar nominations, The Weinstein Co’s Lion is continuing to expand its overseas footprint. Already, last week and weekend saw the film nearly double its international box office in one swing, largely thanks to strong openings in Australia, where Transmission has rights. The week (including the FSS) was worth $6.95M for an offshore cume through Sunday of $14.2M.
The No. 1 $3.18M Oz launch performance is notable as the biggest opening ever for an Australian indie, and the 5th best debut for an Australian film across the board, behind The Great Gatsby, Happy Feet, Australia and Mad Max: Fury Road. Transmission acquired local rights via producer See Saw and released on 254 screens with the start also outpacing that of La La Land which kicked off four weeks ago at $1.4M ($10.4M through Sunday). The Oz cume on Lion after its first weekend is $3.76M.
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The crowd-pleasing pic based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir of being lost as a child in Calcutta, his adoption by an Australian couple and his search for his biological family, is partly set in Tasmania and Melbourne, helping to explain the extra interest Down Under. Supporting Actor and Actress Oscar nominees Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman traveled to Australia for promotion before the holidays.
Looking at indie comps in Oz, TWC’s Imitation Game bowed to $3.4M in 2015, going on to a 3.4 multiple. Its Best Picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech (also produced by Lion‘s See Saw Films) went on to a wild 67 multiple; The Sapphires and last year’s hit The Dressmaker were closer down to Earth with 6.5 and 6.4 multiples. Lion could get to the $15M range, the same neighborhood as The Revenant and Doctor Strange in 2016. In New Zealand, the Garth Davis-helmed Lion bowed at No. 1 at $390K on 90 screens.
India also has a direct relationship to the picture, which was partly shot there in local dialects. Patel-starrer Slumdog Millionaire was the No. 2 non-local pic of 2009 in the vast market that leans greatly towards homegrown fare. With major Bollywood titles rolling out there this week, Lion is waiting until February 24.
Many of the bigger European markets as well have elected to go later, capitalizing on Oscar nominations and any potential wins. The UK is the only one to have opened, landing at No. 5 this past frame with $1.6M on 369 screens in a crowded landscape that included the 2nd week of La La Land and the first week of Sing previews. Entertainment Film is releasing in the UK where it’s hoped Oscar noms will boost fortunes. It topped the recent debuts of Jackie and Manchester By The Sea, as well as TWC’s own Woman In Gold, Carol and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
Other running cumes include Italy (Eagle Pictures) with $3.88M, topping the lifetimes of Burnt, Woman In Gold and August Osage County. In Israel (Forum), the cume is $1.25M, passing Woman In Gold and expected to reach $1.5M. Sweden (Scanbox) this past weekend saw an increase of 4% with $1.14M to date, also passing Woman In Gold and nearing Best Exotic Marigold Hotel levels.
Hungary and Uruguay open today, Spain tomorrow. Future releases include Korea on February 2, Mexico on February 17, France on February 22 and Germany the following day. The film will have a China release, although a date is to be determined.
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