UPDATE, writethru with Bond and Dune actuals: A big and busy weekend at the international box office reaffirmed the power of theatrical as MGM/Eon/Universal’s No Time To Die bonded with audiences to the tune of $121.3M, coming in above Sunday’s estimates.
In like-for-like markets at current exchange rates No Time To Die is in line with Skyfall, and just below Spectre (-15%) excluding previews. Wow!
Meanwhle, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which thrashed to a mega-debut domestically, also licked up a $13.8M start in Russia — the market’s best debut of any film during the health crisis, taking over the benchmark previously set by Warner Bros/Legendary’s Dune. The latter film, in play for three weeks, has topped $100M overseas.
Overall, it was a terrific weekend for moviegoing.
Specifically, the industry has been speculating that if any movie could get folks back into cinemas in the pandemic era, the latest in the enduring Bond franchise was the one. And so it has delivered with the biggest gross for a Hollywood movie this session and the first time a Hollywood film has crossed $100M in its overseas debut during the pandemic without China in the mix.
All kudos to 007, and we’ll get back to him in a minute. However, her majesty’s super secret agent doesn’t get the crown of offshore or global leader this session as that belongs to Chinese propaganda film The Battle At Lake Changjin which grossed a staggering RMB 1.51B ($230M) in China. Held back to release during the National Day holiday and sporting a 9.5 score from audiences, the Wu Jing-starrer is set during the Second Phase Offensive of the Korean War (or the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, as it’s known locally) and tells the story of the People’s Volunteer Army entering North Korea for the titular battle which was a turning point in the conflict. It broke several single-day box office records over the weekend and Maoyan is predicting an RMB 4.59B ($714M) finish for the full run; this would make it the second biggest Chinese film of the year. In IMAX, the film grossed $12.9M for the format’s third best start with a local title.
Daniel Craig’s last turn as James Bond heads to China on October 29, but this weekend it’s all about how other international markets responded to this tentpole in grand fashion, and in some cases at pre-pandemic levels.
No Time To Die released in 54 Universal and MGM markets, ahead of its domestic bow on October 8. Conservative pre-weekend projections were in the $90M range, and Bond blasted past that. Why were the early estimates markedly lower? In part it’s because pandemic era box office has been ornery to predict and because the franchise tends to skew to older audiences who have shown some reticence to return to cinemas.
Ultimately, several areas overperformed versus expectations, including the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Moviegoers in the former turned out in droves — over the past week I spent in London it would have been impossible to swing a cat of any kind without being Bond-blasted. The home market has traditionally led 007 films box office-wise and this installment was no different with an estimated $35.1M UK debut. That’s the sixth biggest opening weekend of all time and the biggest three-day weekend in the franchise’s history.
Already going great guns since opening on Thursday, 007 added $11.4M on Saturday to set the market’s highest day of box office in the history of the Bond franchise, the fourth highest Saturday of all time, and the biggest single day gross for a Universal release. No Time To Die accounted for 87% of the market on Saturday, breaking Friday’s record to become the biggest single day gross of the pandemic, and the highest single day gross since Avengers: Endgame in April 2019. After just one weekend, NTTD becomes the biggest movie of 2021 in the UK.
Other notable market performances for Universal include Germany with $15.1M from 1,300 screens and the biggest launch of the pandemic; Japan with $5.5M to land above Spectre; and Korea at $4.6M.
In the Netherlands, the film hit a franchise high on Saturday after already claiming the biggest Friday opening day of all time for a Universal film. The weekend is $4.1M. Switzerland bowed to $3.4M, the best pandemic start in that market, and Italy hit the same milestone with $3M. Hong Kong grossed $2.9M for the best opening of the franchise and Mexico took $2.4M to top Skyfall and become Universal’s second-biggest opening of the pandemic.
In the MGM markets, Denmark was a standout with an incredible $5.4M and the biggest weekend ever (+21% compared to Spectre and +17% on Avengers: Endgame). NTTD topped Spectre and Skyfall in Sweden with $4.3M and Finland grossed $2.7M, accounting for 78% of the total market and setting the biggest pandemic opening by a large margin. Norway grossed $2.9M and Poland was good for $2.3M, both the biggest openings of the health crisis. The Middle East grossed a total of $5.8M for the region.
Powered by Bond, as well as Venom and a trio of Chinese titles, IMAX had its biggest global box office weekend since December 2019. The format grossed $30M this frame, shattering its best ever October record including $6.8M from 284 screens showing No Time To Die. Filmed with IMAX cameras the movie set records including best opening weekend for a Bond title in 24 countries (notably Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Spain and more), and best pandemic era opening weekend in 21 countries (UK, Hong Kong, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Argentina, among others). Big per screens averages were seen in such markets as the UK ($47K), Denmark ($119K), Norway ($106K), Sweden ($100K) and Hong Kong ($54K).
Next week, No Time To Die continues its global release with 510 IMAX screens from a handful of new markets, including North America, Russia and France.
Looking at other international play, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage had a fantastic debut in Russia with $13.8M to set a new bar as the studio’s biggest opening ever in the market. It’s also the best debut of the pandemic era and is the fourth biggest of any film ever in Russia. The Tom Hardy-starrer outperformed the original by 5% and recent comps Dune (+77%), F9 (+94%) and Shang-Chi (+312%). As noted earlier this week, Russia was the second biggest offshore hub for the first Venom.
Said Josh Greenstein, President, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, “This result reaffirms the exclusive theatrical window and validates the growing demand for theatricality. Our patience and strategy with our big IP paid off.”
Added Steven O’Dell, President, International Releasing, Sony Pictures, “Our Russia office did a tremendous job from both the sales and marketing sides in boldly anticipating the release date and creating an imaginative, tailored marketing campaign. Along with the U.S., their record results proved the world is in a frenzy for Venom and the industry has reason to be excited all around the world as we continue our international rollout over the coming weeks.”
In IMAX, Venom 2 had a pandemic-best launch day Thursday in Russia and then the biggest IMAX Friday box office since 2019’s Lion King. The IMAX Friday gross was down only 6% from opening day, which is unprecedented.
The symbiote heads to Latin America next weekend, before going wide overseas the following frame.
In just three weekends, Warner Bros/Legendary’s Dune has topped the $100M mark at the international box office. On a staggered release pattern, the sci-fi epic has grossed $103.9M in 32 markets. This weekend, the haul was $14.7M for a 45% drop against the openings of No Time To Die and Venom 2. In like-for-like markets and using today’s rates, Dune is still tracking ahead of all comps including Tenet (+16%), Black Widow,(+63%), Shang-Chi (+71%), Blade Runner 2049 (+80%) and Godzilla Vs Kong (+101%).
The total IMAX cume is now $10M, repping 11% of the total international box office. Up next for the Denis Villeneuve-directed film is Japan on October 15. After that, Dune heads to Korea on October 20 and North America and China on October 22.
The Top 5 markets to date are France ($21.2M), Russia ($18.1M), Germany ($13.4M), Spain ($7M) and Italy ($6.7M).
Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is now in its fifth weekend overseas, and added $8.3M this session for an international cume of $180.8M and a global tally of $387M. The movie saw an overall drop of 43% this session including strong holds in Australia (+10%), France (-27%), Spain (-31%), Taiwan (-34%), Brazil (-35%), and Netherlands (-41%).
The Top 5 markets are currently the UK ($27.1M), Korea ($14.9M), France ($11.5M), Russia ($8.6M) and Japan ($8.4M). Disney is still listing a China date as “to be determined,” however after such a long lag, it seems unlikely.
MISC UPDATED CUMES/NOTABLE
Paw Patrol: The Movie (PAR): $3.2M intl weekend (54 markets); $77.5M intl cume/$117.1M global
The Many Saints Of Newark (WB): $419K intl weekend (9 markets); $2.3M intl cume/$7.3M
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.