U.S. tally is 3rd largest Wednesday ever

This article was updated at 7:11 p.m.

It wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but it’ll do.

Warner Bros.’ groundbreaking gambit of releasing “The Matrix Revolutions” at the same moment in 96 countries reaped a total of $43.1 million in first-day receipts.

The U.S. tally of $24.3 million from 3,502 playdates was the second-biggest Wednesday ever, but it fell well short of the top single-day marks, not surprising for a pre-holiday November frame. It ranked No. 12 on the opening-day list.

Given its print count — in the vicinity of 8,000 — many B.O. watchers had expected the debut day to reach a slightly higher level as the morning and matinee grosses rolled in. Showtimes began at 6 a.m. in the West Coast, giving the pic extra playtime as well as a publicity hook.

Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of U.S. distribution, dismissed the notion that some viewers may be less enthusiastic about the franchise after “Reloaded,” which scored poorly with critics and many fans.

“It was a spectacular day at the box office,” Fellman said. “We were hoping to get to the $20 million mark.”

The compressed release window between “Reloaded” and “Revolutions,” a novelty among megabudget franchise pics, “meant that we couldn’t build up the same frenzy that we would have had we held off,” Fellman added.

Great expectations

Most B.O. watchers are figuring on a five-day domestic bow in excess of $100 million. “Reloaded” scooped up $134.3 million over four days.

November has a different midweek dynamic than summer does, Fellman noted. In 2002, total industry B.O. on Nov. 5 was $5.8 million. This year, it hit $29 million — 84% of which was “Revolutions.”

The first two editions of “Matrix” minted more money overseas, and the trilogy capper looks like it will follow the course of its predecessors. (“Reloaded,” for example, has raked in $456.1 million internationally, dwarfing domestic’s $281.5 million.)

Overseas, the Wachowski siblings’ third epic minted an estimated $18.8 million from 10,013 prints in 107 territories. In addition, it rang up a socko $1.75 million on 455 screens in Australia (where it preemed at 1 a.m. Thursday local time) and $193,000 on 77 in New Zealand (where it launched at 3 a.m.).

“We are extremely pleased with these early results, particularly since they represent a limited number of shows in so many different countries,” said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, WB Intl. distribution prexy.

Worldwide popularity

The finale’s first-day figures suggest an opening weekend haul north of $100 million abroad is highly achievable. Beyond that, the studio and the industry will be curious to see whether “Revolutions’ ” debut weekend can beat “Reloaded’s” second frame, when it invaded 80 markets (after launching in 16 initially) and amassed an unprecedented $113.2 million.

Comparisons between the second and third editions’ first days are difficult because the latter opened at 2 p.m. in the U.K. and 3 p.m. in continental Europe.

Record Holland haul

Generally, the opening day ranked as WB’s second or fourth best ever.

In Holland, pic marked an industry record for the territory. The first full day in Oz is a fair indication of how pic stands in the industry pecking order, as “Revolutions” registered the territory’s sixth-biggest opening day of all time, the fourth best Thursday and the biggest opening day in November (beating both “Harry Potter” pics). Its first day accounted for 60% of “Reloaded’s” initial day, which had the advantage of a midnight Thursday debut.

“It’s a great start,” said one Sydney exhib, who was anticipating a four-day tally of around $7 million.

Territory highlights include:

  • U.K.: $3.07 million on 467 sites/925 prints, WB’s fourth-biggest opening day. Distrib noted it was Guy Fawkes night on Wednesday, when the B.0. traditionally dips as folks around the country watch firework displays.

  • France: $2 million on 902 prints, WB’s fourth-highest opening day behind the two “Harry Potters” and “La Verite Si Je Mens 2.” The first day was 21% less than “Reloaded’s,” which bowed on 894 prints/709 screens.

  • Germany: $1.6 million on 759 prints/900 screens. The industry’s second-biggest opening day for a 16-rated movie behind “Reloaded.”

  • Japan: $1.45 million on 493 screens from its first session at 11 p.m.; some theaters had two shows.

  • Spain: $1.06 million on 465 prints, WB’s fourth-biggest opening behind “Reloaded” and the “Potters.”

  • Italy: $944,000 on 502 prints, WB’s second best behind “Reloaded,” which debuted on a Friday.

  • Mexico: $898,000 on 550 prints/828 screens, 14% less than the predecessor, which opened on a Friday on 868 screens/530 prints.

  • Russia: $560,000 on 198 prints; first show was at 5 p.m.

  • Sweden: $521,0000 on 134 prints/138 screens, 14% below “Reloaded,” which started at midnight on a Tuesday.

  • Brazil: $490,000 on 400 prints; first screening 11 a.m.

  • Holland: $343,000 on 142 prints/145 screens, hailed by WB as an all-time record in the territory.

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