‘Zorro’ on the mark

Swashbuckler swings $27 million overseas

Making up for a modest domestic launch, “The Legend of Zorro” hit the foreign bull’s-eye as the sequel’s opening dominated offshore weekend biz with $27 million at 6,140 playdates in 50 foreign territories.

“The Legend of Zorro,” handled overseas by Sony in partnership with Spyglass, led in 40 markets as it opened in about 90% of the world day-and-date with the Stateside launch. International performance of the sequel — aimed squarely at family audiences and opening during All Saints Day holidays in many markets — appears likely to wind up far better than the domestic take.

The original opened overseas with $22 million and turned in a solid foreign perf with $156 million.

“The Legend of Zorro” rang up the largest foreign debut of the fall, slightly bettering the $26.4 million for “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” during the second weekend of October. Best score by far for “Zorro” came in France with $5.8 million at 690 playdates, 27% bigger than the original.

“Zorro” won in Banderas’ native Spain, where it grossed $2.8 million at 550 engagements, 5% ahead of the original. It also led in Mexico with $1.4 million at 500, in China with $1.38 million at 250, in Brazil with $1 million at 319 and in Russia with $1 million at 301.

U.K. takings for “Zorro” totaled $2.8 million at 485 playdates for a third-place finish behind “Wallace & Gromit” and “Nanny McPhee,” while German gross hit $1.65 million at 674, trailing the soph sesh of “Flightplan.” Local titles prevented victories in Italy, where “Zorro” came in third with $1.2 million at 500, and in South Korea, where it finished fourth with $1.06 million at 160.

Family-oriented flicks took the lion’s share of biz with UIP’s “Wallace & Gromit,” which had won three straight weekends, posting a still-respectable $13.9 million, followed by Warner’s “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” with $10.5 million from 2,400 prints in 26 markets. UIP’s family comedy “Nanny McPhee” remained more than respectable in the U.K. with a 15% soph-sesh hike to $5.3 million at 424 — 55% ahead of the opening of U.S. leader “Saw II.”

“Wallace & Gromit” has hit $91.8 million internationally with worldwide cume nearing $140 million. As usual, the U.K. remained a standout with a 22% drop in its third frame to $6.5 million at 495 locations, lifting the Blighty take to $45.5 million and passing the final territorial cume of Aardman Animations’ “Chicken Run.”

“Wallace” fell a tiny 4% in France in its third frame to $2.2 million for a French cume of $9.2 million. German biz slid 45% to $1 million, pushing the three-week total there to $6.1 million.

“Corpse Bride,” which has cumed $27.4 million offshore, scared up its best results in soph seshes in France, with a 19% decline to $2.3 million at 455 sites, and in the U.K., with a 20% slide to $1.6 million at 404. The toon performed decently with moderate-sized launches in Italy with $1.2 million at 220 and in Spain with $1.1 million at 155.

Overall foreign biz was impressive compared with the same frame of 2004. The top three pics — “Zorro,” “Wallace” and “Corpse Bride” — pulled in a combined $51 million, $13 million better than year-ago leaders “Shark Tale” ($15.5 million), “The Seven Dwarfs” ($13 million) and “A Very Long Engagement” ($9.7 million).

Best performance among adult-oriented entries came from BVI’s “Flightplan,” with $6.3 million at 1,867 playdates in 21 markets. Foreign cume has hit $31 million, including $8 million from five weeks in Mexico and $7.7 million from two weeks in Germany.

In one of the few losses for “Zorro,” the opening of “Flightplan” won in Belgium with $580,000 at 70 sites, 25% better than “Air Force One.”

UIP’s “Doom,” in the early phase of its foreign run, grossed $4 million at 1,043 screens in 19 markets, including a first-place launch in Australia with $1.1 million at 169. Distrib’s “Pride and Prejudice” took in $2.7 million at 926 in eight markets, lifting foreign cume to $34.2 million, with $25 million of that from seven weeks in the U.K.

UIP’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” scored $2 million at 1,243 engagements in 29 territories to boost the offshore total to $42.2 million. Sony’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” scared up a moderate $720,000 at 209 in its Australian launch.

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