‘Matrix’ leaves some wanting

3rd pic hits, misses globally

Records shmecords! “The Matrix Revolutions” smashed numerous high marks internationally last weekend but exhibs in the U.K. and Australia griped that the numbers were far short of more ambitious prophecies.

Nonetheless, Warner Bros. was rightly crowing about the sci-fier’s all-time record weekend overseas, its industry best debut in Russia and company highs in China and India.

The Wachowski brothers’ epic finale was the third-biggest opening ever in Japan; Warner’s second highest in Brazil; its third best in Spain; and fourth in the U.K., Italy and Mexico.

The WB/Village Roadshow co-production conjured up an unprecedented $117.6 million on 10,013 prints in 107 territories, topping “The Matrix Reloaded’s” $113.2 million amassed in May from launches in 80 markets and soph sessions in 16 countries.

‘Amazing number’

“That’s an amazing number,” said one rival distrib chief. “Warner Bros. did a great job strategically in releasing the film around the world at the same hour on the same day.” Two execs at other studios estimate that “Revolutions” will wind up with about $350 million overseas, well below “Reloaded’s” $456.1 million.

The studio isn’t making any projections, but international marketing prexy Sue Kroll noted the film is generating positive buzz in many markets. “We’re sure the (zero-hour release) had a galvanizing effect on people: It became a worldwide event.”

However, programmers in the U.K. were disappointed with its $14.6 million haul on 925 prints, which ranks as the second biggest for an R-rated film behind “Reloaded” and the industry’s 11th highest. They said the finale’s three-day numbers were 36% below those of its predecessor (although WB reported the difference was 28% in local currency, comparing the pic’s five-day figure with the second edition’s three days). They theorized auds felt let down by the previous installment and were not clamoring to see how the trilogy ends.

Similarly, exhibs in Australia were underwhelmed by the $5.6 million bow on 454, which was 28% below the middle seg and the industry’s 10th biggest. One exec, who was expecting at least $700,000 more after a gangbusters opening day Thursday, said it’s drawing only the franchise’s die-hard fans. As a mitigating factor, televised World Cup rugby matches Down Under over the weekend distracted many young males from going to the movies.

Among the stellar bows, Japan’s $14.6 million on 900 prints stands as the third-highest opening in the territory behind “Reloaded” (which it trailed by 22%) and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”; France’s $10.7 million on 902 was Warner’s fourth best for a U.S. release in admissions, just 11% shy of the forerunner.

Teutonic take

Germany contributed $8 million on 1,068, the third highest locally for a 16-rated film behind “Reloaded” and “Die Another Day,” and the distrib’s sixth best. “The innovation that set the first film apart is no longer that stunning for moviegoers and it’s lost some of its appeal, but it’s still doing excellent business,” said one contented Berlin cinema manager, who noted the negative reviews had little or no impact.

Also impressive were Spain’s $6.3 million on 465 (8% less than the last one), Italy’s $6 million on 600 (9% below), South Korea’s $5.3 million on 321 (15% under), Russia’s $5.3 million on 198 (dethroning “Terminator 3”), Mexico’s $3.6 million on 828 and Brazil’s $2.4 million on 458. Ditto Sweden’s $1.9 million and Holland’s $1.8 million.

The finale outgunned its predecessor in Taiwan (notching $2.2 million, 30% ahead), Russia (56% to the good), China ($1.8 million, 29% higher) and India ($649,000 on 106).

Predictably, Neo & Co. flattened most of the holdovers, although “Intolerable Cruelty” proved an appealing alternative, grossing $6.8 million on 1,975 playdates in 21 countries, raising cume to $46.9 million.

“Kill Bill Vol. 1” climbed to an estimated $55 million in 21 territories, highlighted by the U.K.’s $16.3 million, Germany’s $6.7 million, Italy’s $4.7 million and Australia’s $4.7 million, all through its fourth stanzas.

Finding traction

“Seabiscuit” cantered into the U.K. with $1.3 million on 341, its most respectable opening after flopping in Italy, France and Germany.

“Finding Nemo” hooked $2.8 million in its sixth outing in Blighty, propelling the territory total to $56.1 million, overtaking “Reloaded” to become the highest grosser released there this year. Cume hit $155.4 million, with continental Europe and Japan ahead.

Widening from 77 to 112 prints in the U.K. and Ireland, Fox’s “In America” took $464,000, upping its 10-day market total to $1.3 million. Saga of an Irish family moving to New York is resonating well in Ireland and OK in London but not connecting in the provinces.

(Archie Thomas in London and Ed Meza in Berlin contributed to this report.)

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