Kid wiz bests 'Titanic' in weekend grosses

Sorry, James Cameron, let’s proclaim “Harry Potter” as the new king of the world — at least by one yardstick.

The junior wizard seized “Titanic’s” crown as the all-time highest weekend grosser overseas last weekend. The Chris Columbus-helmed fantasy sold an estimated 12.4 million tickets, amassing $60.9 million, from 6,574 prints on more than 7,000 screens in 31 countries. That eclipsed the previous benchmark set by “Titanic” in 1998, when it racked up $50.7 million over the Jan. 23-25 frame in 32 territories.

To be fair, “Titanic” played on a mere 4,776 screens. It remains to be seen whether Warner Bros.’ blockbuster, whose cume rocketed to $152.7 million, can emulate “Titanic’s” feat of minting more than $45 million for six consecutive weekends. Known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in Asia and “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in most other markets, pic shattered industry opening records in Japan, Australia, Spain, Greece, Israel, Portugal and Iceland.

Japan is big

In Japan, “Harry” rang up $12.5 million in two days on an unprecedented 650 screens, without sneaks, 44% up on Japan’s “Spirited Away,” 50% ahead of “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and 63% bigger than “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” excluding those titles’ previews. Its Saturday/Sunday tally was just 4.2% below “Spirited Away’s” 3-day bow, as the latter launched on a Friday.

Based on those numbers, WB already is predicting “Potter” will comfortably surpass “A.I.’s” $78 million gross in Japan. Australia generated $4.8 million from 476 prints (besting “Phantom Menace”), Spain chipped in $4.4 million on 375 (dethroning “Planet of the Apes”), Greece notched $699,000 in three days on 54 (beating the five-day haul of “What Women Want”), Portugal brought in $594,000 on 83, and Israel did $567,000 on 87 (toppling “Scary Movie”).

WB hailed Mexico’s $3.7 million on 739 screens as the market’s second-highest preem ever behind “Dinosaur” (which bowed during holidays), Argentina’s $1.2 million on 173 as the third-best ever, and Thailand’s $1.1 million on 152 as the largest for a Western film and the second-biggest ever, trailing local click “Suriyothai.”

In Germany, pic dropped by a reasonable 34.5% after a whammo debut, fetching $10.1 million, elevating the market total to a dizzying $28.5 million. Similarly, it scored record second weekends in Holland (tallying $3.4 million thus far), Austria ($2.6 million), Denmark ($2.6 million), German-speaking Switzerland, Norway and South Africa.

U.K. strong

Other stellar totals include the U.K.’s $55.4 million through its third weekend (slipping by 31%, ranking already as the territory’s seventh-highest earner), Brazil’s $3.9 million in 10 days (off 21%) and Taiwan’s $7.7 million after its third lap.

Illustrating the enduring love affair between Gallic auds and Disney animation, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” snared $4.6 million on 800 screens in France, the fourth-biggest toon bow behind “Tarzan,” “Dinosaur” and “The Lion King.”

“Atlantis” collected a buoyant $420,000 on 90 in Belgium, on par with “Pocahontas” and slightly below “Mulan,” and eased by 32% in Spain for $1.9 million in 10 days. Cume stands at $45.5 million, with Germany and Japan opening this weekend.

In its offshore preem, “Monsters Inc.” saw $460,000 on 38 in Singapore, including previews, an animated industry record, outrunning “Dinosaur.” Sans sneaks, the Disney/Pixar pic was No. 2 behind the irrepressible “Harry Potter,” which nabbed $412,000 in its soph session.

“American Pie 2″ climbed to $106.6 million, spurred by South Korea’s lusty $485,000 in three days on 60 — four times more than the first “Pie’s” entire take there.

Following a checkered path, “Zoolander” stumbled off the runway in the U.K. with $946,000 in three days on 311 after a solid run in Australia and corpsing in Mexico.

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