Exhibs were all-aquiver just before “The Day After Tomorrow” launched day-and-date on 8,234 prints in 110 markets/100 countries, blanketing the world except for Japan and South Korea. However, while some bookers in Spain were anticipating gangbuster numbers for Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic saga, they doubted it would beat the bows of “Troy” or even “Van Helsing.”
Programmers in Italy, meanwhile, were confident the market would expand and that “Troy” would fall by a modest 25%-30% in its second voyage, despite “Tomorrow’s” invasion. Demonstrating much more firepower abroad than at home, “Troy” triumphed in 55 markets, capturing an estimated $71 million on a massive 10,272 screens in 58 territories May 21-23.
That ranked as the industry’s sixth biggest weekend ever and Warner’s third best behind the last two “Matrix” installments. “Troy’s” cume through May 25 soared to $162 million, eclipsing domestic. Trojan War tale is on course to hit $250 million; its chances of reaching $300 million will depend on how it stands up to Fox’s disaster pic.
Brad Pitt starrer saw stellar debuts in 11 markets and was No. 1 again in its soph sessions in 44. Wolfgang Petersen-helmed pic notched WB’s third biggest bow in South Korea, its fourth highest for a three-day preem in Italy and its fifth best in the U.K. In industry rankings, it registered the fourth biggest debut in Taiwan, No. 5 of all time in Russia and the best for an R-rated release in Denmark.
The Japanese opening was impressive, although 8% below that of “The Last Samurai,” sans sneaks. “It may not be as rounded a film as ‘Gladiator’ and may not stand up to relentless scholarly scrutiny from classicists, but it does deliver the thrills and spills desired by its audience,” enthused one British exhib, as the national B.O. rocketed by 107%. But he opined the pic lost some potential due to scorching weather during its London platform and previews, and he was expecting its second weekend to be frozen out by “Day After Tomorrow.”
Receipts in Italy jumped by 66%, Germany improved by 15% and France was up 13%, but Spain dipped by 16%. Slide was blamed chiefly on the distraction of the wedding of Prince Felipe and TV newscaster Letizia Ortiz, especially in Madrid, given the security measures that made it difficult to move around the center of town.
Beginning its offshore adventures in Southeast Asia May 21, “Shrek 2” more than doubled the original’s first three days in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, and it was tops in Hong Kong as well. DreamWorks’ toon actually beat “Finding Nemo’s” three-day bows in Singapore and the Philippines. UIP is holding “Shrek 2” in the rest of the world until late June/early July for the school vacations.
“Van Helsing” dropped by an average of 40% in its third stanza in 41 countries, propelling its cume to $122.2 million; arguably the action adventure had less to lose after steep descents in its second weekend. It has a shot at hitting $200 million if it clicks in Japan and South Korea.
The Cannes fest proved an effective launching pad for “Bad Education,” which bowed on 45 screens in the U.K. and held stoutly in its second chapter in France. One booker said Pathe could have released Pedro Almodovar’s pic on another 10-15 prints as biz was strong at most locations, although less so in London’s downmarket suburbs.
After its Cannes preem, Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” saw a reasonable turnout in Italy, where exhibs say Che Guevara still is revered by many.
“The Ladykillers” displayed some charm in Spain, positioned as an alternative to the popcorn fare, which included a fair debut by “Twisted” and a lousy start for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But the Tom Hanks starrer tanked in Japan, where the Coen brothers have never caught on.
“Kill Bill Vol. 2” climbed to $65.6 million in 34 territories, overtaking domestic, but with Spain the only remaining major market it won’t catch the original’s $110 million. Quentin Tarantino’s splatterfest is kicking along OK in France, but disappointing exhibs who had higher expectations after all the hoopla that surrounded pic and its helmer in Cannes. However, the Uma Thurman/David Carradine starrer was meek in Mexico, where the first edition fizzled and auds eschew overtly violent themes.
Emir Kusturica’s Bosnian-set black comedy “Life Is a Miracle” is a solid arthouse attraction in France, getting a similar response to his “Black Cat, White Cat.” Ticket sales in Germany got a leg up from “Der Wixxer,” a spoof of the Edgar Wallace movies that many Teutons watched in their youth. The title is a double pun on Wallace’s novel “The Mixer” and the German word wichser, meaning wanker. “It’s really silly and pretty dumb, but it’s funny and will probably continue to attract big numbers,” said one exec.
After steady runs in the U.K. and Oz, Jim Carrey starrer “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” piqued some interest at specialized venues in Germany but didn’t connect with the mainstream, no surprise to local exhibs in light of its U.S. experience.
Sheri Jennings in Rome, Ed Meza in Berlin, John Hopewell in Madrid, Archie Thomas in London and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.