Fantasies take flight at foreign B.O.

'Potter' nets another $52 mil; 'Narnia' debuts with $42 mil

It’s still Harry Potter’s world but there’s plenty of room at the foreign box office for “The Chronicles of Narnia” as the family-friendly duo dominated international moviegoing over the weekend.

The fourth weekend of Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” conjured up $51.9 million from over 11,200 prints in 56 markets, bringing its foreign cume to $414 million and the worldwide total to $658 million.

“Goblet” has become only the 18th pic to have topped $400 million in overseas grosses, a club that includes the three “Potter” predecessors.

And “Narnia” debuted with $42 million at 2,800 playdates in 13 markets for a socko $15,000 per screen. BVI pointed to the figure as representing the second-best launch for a non-sequel in the combined 13 territories, trailing only “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which took in $50 million from its openings in those markets.

The solid one-two punch of “Goblet” and “Narnia” has heightened hopes the biz will continue to end 2005 on a major upswing after lagging 2004 for much of this year — particularly with “King Kong” waiting in the wings for Wednesday’s worldwide day-and-date launch, followed by “Narnia” expanding into most markets on the pre-Christmas weekend.  

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” declined 45% from its third frame, led by a solid French soph sesh with $11 million at 950 playdates, its third weekend in Japan with $6.6 million at 858 and its second weekend in Korea with $4.5 million at 486, edging down only 13%. In its only opening, “Goblet” set a launch record in Israel with $837,000 at 37 sites.

Top “Goblet” totals have come in the U.K. with $69.9 million, Germany with $49.9 million, Japan with $41.3 million and France with $32.9 million. And the four Potter pics have now totalled over $2.21 billion overseas and $3.28 billion worldwide.

So the impressive holdover numbers from “Goblet” weren’t a surprise but “Narnia” –viewed as the starting pic in a franchise — was less of a given even with the recognition for the C.S. Lewis books. As a result, BVI’s been busy for the past year with extensive promo campaigns in each offshore market. “We hit all our objectives,” said Mark Zoradi, BVI president of international distribution. “We think ‘Narnia’ will have excellent playability into January. It has  strong winter and Christmas themes, so our dating strategy should work well.”

BVI, opting to open in markets where the Potter pic was in its third or fourth weekend, posted its top “Narnia” figure by far in the U.K. with $16 million at 499 enegagements for that market’s fourth-best non-sequel launch after the first “Harry Potter,” the first “Lord of the Rings” and the first “Spider-Man.”

“Narnia” posted the third-best opening of all time in Spain with $7.5 million at 359, trailing only the launches of local hit “Torrente 3” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Germany’s opening for “Narnia” totalled $6 million at 860 and Mexico debuted with $5.9 million at 396 — the fifth-best launch in that market.

“Narnia” also topped seven figures with Brazil with $1.4 million at 232, in Austria with $1.1 million at 89, in German-speaking Switzerland with $1 million at 100, in New Zealand with $1 million at 78 — sixth largest opening ever in that market, which was the site of the production. Malaysia managed $720,000 at 35 for the fifth-best launch in that territory.

With “Goblet” and “Narnia,” overall overseas biz was emphatically better than the same weekend last year when “The Incredibles” led with $32.1 million, followed by “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” with $18.7 million. And with “Goblet,” “Narnia” and “King Kong” expected to dominate December’s  biz, other launches have been limited to a few targeted markets. BVI and Spyglass reported a respectable opening for “Memoirs of a Geisha” in Japan — where it’s titled “Suriya” after the pic’s lead character — with $2 million at 265 locations.

BVI’s “Chicken Little” landed in third during the weekend with $11 million at 3,520 playdates, lifting the toon’s foreign cume to $57.5 million as best perfs came from in France with a beefy $4.5 million at 420, following its exclusive two-week run one Paris venue, and a $1.6 million Italian soph sesh. “Chicken Little” came up big in Argentina with a $765,00 Iaunch for the second best animated opening in that market.

UIP’s “Just Like Heaven” took in a moderate $5.3 million in three dozen markets, lifiting its foreign cume to $18.3 million.

Sony’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” scared up decent coin with $5 million at 2,550 playdates to lift its foreign cume to $51.5 million. Its French opening generated a moderate $1 million at 232.

BVI’s sturdy “Flightplan” landed with $3.2 million at 2,584 enegagements to lift its international total to $102 million, representing the 20th pic this year to cross the nine-figure mark in non-U.S. grosses.

UIP’s “The Constant Gardener” harvested $1 million at 478 sites in seven markets while the distrib’s “Doom” grossed $800,000 at 33 markets to lift the foreign cume to $22.7 million. Sony “Zathura” launched mildly in Japan with $800,000 at 458 while UIP’s “The Ice Harvest” generated a lukewarm Spanish launch with $365,000 at 141.

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