Synchro bows limit ‘Revolutions’ piracy

Pic now highest-grosser in one weekend internationally

True to form, the “Matrix” finale soared to much greater heights overseas than at home over the weekend.

“The Matrix Revolutions” amassed an estimated $118.6 million on 10,013 prints in 107 countries, becoming the highest-grosser in a single weekend in history internationally.

It seized that crown from “The Matrix Reloaded,” which racked up $113.2 million last May when it bowed in 80 markets after launching the previous weekend in 16 territories. Warner Bros. can now lay claim to the only two blockbusters that have minted more than $100 million in a single weekend abroad.

Comparisons are difficult because “Reloaded” debuted on a Friday in most countries, while the finale started on Wednesday, at times varying from 11 a.m. in Brazil, 2 p.m. in the U.K. and 3 p.m. in continental Europe to 11 p.m. in Japan and 1 a.m. Thursday in Australia.

But contrasting the two juggernaut’s opening weekends across all markets, the third installment came in just 14% below the predecessor, according to a delighted Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, WB international distrib prexy.

She’s convinced the huge effort required for the zero-hour worldwide release was well worth it, pointing to the pic’s stellar preems in markets such as Russia, China and India that are usually blighted by piracy. In all three cases, it opened substantially bigger than “Reloaded.”

No pirate vids before preem

Ultra-tight security in China, for example, meant no pirated videos of the Keanu Reeves starrer surfaced until after the preem.

The first copies showed up on Beijing streets Saturday afternoon. None was available through Saturday in Shanghai, according to Daily Variety‘s correspondent there. A Shanghai vidtailer said a camcorder had been used to record the film in a cinema — but copies had not yet been circulated.

Kwan-Rubinek said it wasn’t surprising that DVDs had appeared in China after its theatrical launch.

Among the most impressive opening tallies, pic scored an estimated $14.9 million in the U.K. (27% below the second edition); $14.8 million in Japan (25% less); $11.2 million in France (just 4% shy); and $6.3 million in Spain and $6.2 million in Italy (both 7% less).

Germany’s estimated $8 million haul trailed “Reloaded’s” debut by 40%, probably reflecting the yearlong depressed marketplace more than any inherent lack of appeal.

Rugby digs into perf

Australia’s $5.6 million ranks as the territory’s 10th biggest bow, although 29% below that of the second pic — a deficit that can be attributed chiefly to televised World Cup rugby matches played Down Under over the weekend. An Oz-Scotland game on Saturday drew a hefty 2.1 million viewers, many of whom were in the pic’s young male demo.

Other illustrious perfs included South Korea’s $5.2 million, Russia’s $4.8 million (an industry record, 200% of the “Reloaded” entry), Mexico’s $3.6 million, China’s $1.5 million, New Zealand’s $764,000 and India’s $650,000 (136% bigger).

The WB/Village Roadshow sci-fier stands as the 22nd title released this year to cross $100 million.

How high will “Revolutions” fly eventually overseas vs. the $456.1 million uploaded by “Reloaded”? WB isn’t making any projections, waiting to see how it holds over the next couple of weekends — and whether it can generate the kind of repeat business that buoyed its predecessor.

Mixed reviews

Initial feedback has been very positive in markets such as Japan, Italy and China, according to Kwan-Rubinek. She noted reviews were “very mixed” in Germany and the U.K., which might portend substantial drops if the critics there are in sync with the sentiments of filmgoers.

Neo & Co. didn’t obliterate everything else in sight as “Intolerable Cruelty” held reasonably well in its third weekends, grossing an estimated $6.4 million from 2,382 playdates in 24 countries, raising cume to $46.4 million. That’s highlighted by the U.K.’s $8.1 million, Germany’s $6.2 million, Spain’s $4.9 million and Australia’s $4.2 million.

(Steven Schwankert in Beijing and Arthur Jones in Shanghai contributed to this report.)

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