CGI sequel beats original's B.O. in every market

The UIP/DreamWorks strategy of holding back “Shrek 2″ appears to be paying off handsomely, as the sequel smashed UIP opening records in Australia, Latin America and Taiwan over the weekend.

Ogre tale eclipsed the bows of the original “Shrek” in every market and beat that of “Finding Nemo” everywhere except Brazil, where it was on par.

“There’s an argument for not going day-and-date in some instances, and this proves it,” UIP prexy Andrew Cripps said Sunday.

Cripps said delaying the debuts enabled the distrib to exploit the “huge anticipation” that followed “Shrek 2’s” domestic launch; also, the film is positioned to cash in on the school holidays that start in Oz and Europe in the next couple of weeks.

Toon did open day-and-date in five Southeast Asian markets in hopes of stifling video pirates and earned tidy sums considering the original did good but not great biz in that region.

Collectively, “Shrek 2,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Troy” hauled in approximately $101.5 million over the weekend, monopolizing more than 24,000 screens among them.

The fairy tale rang up an estimated $32 million from nearly 1,900 locations in 16 markets, bringing cume to $38 million.

“Shrek 2″ grabbed $9.8 million in five days on 375 screens in Mexico, and its $7 million three-day tally was 289% bigger than that of the first edition and 96% better than that of “Finding Nemo.”

Family pic delivered $9.7 million in Australia (the industry’s second highest preem after “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”) and $1.3 million in New Zealand — in both, four times bigger than “Shrek.”

Sequel snared $4.5 million in South Korea, $1.6 million in Brazil, $1.1 million in Taiwan, $872,000 in Chile, $870,000 in Argentina, $755,000 in Central America, $732,000 in Colombia and $416,000 in Peru.

DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg and thesp Antonio Banderas made lightning trips to promote the pic in Mexico, Sydney and Japan (where it’s dated for July 24). “Shrek 2″ will roll out in France on Wednesday and most of the rest of Europe the weekend after next except Italy, where it’s booked for Christmas.

The third “Harry Potter” pic minted an estimated $39 million from more than 10,000 screens in 48 territories — landing at No. 1 in 32 of them. Cume soared to $263.6 million, around $72 million ahead of domestic, with Japan and South Korea ahead.

The latest Hogwarts saga conjured up a projected $6.5 million on 498 in Spain, marking the industry’s fourth highest bow, 7% up on “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” but 6% below “Chamber of Secrets.”

Alfonso Cuaron-helmed fantasy rang up $462,000 on 49 in Indonesia, 166% bigger than the first edition and 87% ahead of the second.

But it was squelched by the ogre in its soph session in Oz, plunging by 66% to $2.9 million, bringing the territory haul to a still-impressive $14.5 million.

Through its third frames, “Azkaban” has mustered a uniformly socko $66.3 million in Blighty (slipping just 30%), $34.8 million in France (albeit tumbling by 59%), $34.6 million in Germany (down 44%), $17 million in Italy (off 54%) and $12.3 million in Mexico.

“The Day After Tomorrow” collared an estimated $19.7 million from more than 7,700 playdates, hoisting cume to $274.7 million — tracking $108 million ahead of domestic.

Roland Emmerich’s opus reigned again in its third stanza in Japan, commanding $3.7 million (easing by a mild 28%), spurring the territory total to $27.6 million. Among the ice-age tale’s stellar hauls are the U.K.’s $38.1 million (abating by a mere 15% in its fourth sojourn), Germany’s $25.6 million and Spain’s $13.7 million (losing 21%).

“Troy” trapped an estimated $10.8 million from more than 4,700 screens in 59 markets, declining by a more-than-acceptable 34% from the prior weekend. Cume advanced to $312.3 million, eclipsing the domestic tally by around $183 million. Greek odyssey now ranks as the second highest grosser for an R-rated pic abroad, overtaking “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and becoming Warners’ fifth biggest pic internationally.

Brad Pitt/Orlando Bloom starrer raked in $713,000 on 45 in Hong Kong, its last significant market, where its bow was 145% greater than the debut of “The Last Samurai.”

A week after its domestic preem, “The Chronicles of Riddick” began its offshore campaign with disappointing results in Singapore, scoring $210,000 on 26 (ranking fourth) and in Malaysia with $160,000 on 36. Vin Diesel starrer appeared unable to find auds against the competition from the U.S. juggernauts. It’s being held for late July/August in most other markets.

As counterprogramming to the Euro 2004 soccer, UIP launched “Mean Girls” in the U.K., fetching a pleasing $2.6 million on 366 (15% ahead of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”) and Russia, pocketing $600,000 on 67.

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