LONDON — “War of the Worlds” took the international market by storm in its record-breaking five-day opening frame, grabbing an estimated $102.5 million from 8,000 prints in 78 countries.
UIP’s estimates make “Worlds” the best ever non-sequel international opener and the fifth biggest international opener of all time. Pic joins “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” “The Matrix Revolutions” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” as the only films to have cleared the $100 million bar in international on opening weekend.
“Worlds’” $102.5 million reps UIP’s best ever five-day weekend. It deposes “Shrek 2,” which scored $79 million in July 2004.
“Worlds” international opening weekend number does not match “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” ($144 million) but is well ahead of 2005 blockbuster competish “Batman Begins” and “Kingdom of Heaven.”
Andrew Cripps, UIP prexy and chief operating officer, described “Worlds’” U.K. and Japanese openings as the “standout” performers.
The actioner, which is based on Brit H.G.Wells book, opened Friday July 1 in the U.K. and posted an estimated $15.2 million, including $1.9 million in Thursday’s previews, from 507 locations. The boffo opening is the biggest in the territory for the pic’s director Steven Spielberg, topliner Tom Cruise and international rights owner Paramount Pictures. The only other UIP releases to outperform “Worlds” in the U.K. are sequels “Shrek 2” and “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”
Cripps added that UIP was especially satisfied with “Worlds” bow in Blighty considering the pic went head to head with Saturday’s televised Live 8 concerts. The front-page coverage generated by the prank played on Tom Cruise at the London preem seems to have negated Live 8’s potential to dent “Worlds”’ biz.
“Worlds”’ $15.5 million from 765 locations in Japan marked territory bests for both UIP and Paramount. “The $15 million in Japan was a phenomenal result for UIP. We launched a targeted marketing campaign in Japan that clearly paid off,” commented Cripps. The Japanese world preem, which was attended by Spielberg and Cruise, did the pic’s pre-release buzz no harm either.
The $6.5 million taken from 560 sites in Italy also represented Paramount and UIP’s best opening weekend showing. As did the $5.5 million taken in Russia from 283 locations, which was also an all-time best in the territory for a foreign film.
Although the $7.8 million scored from 589 locations in Spain did not match UIP’s takings for “Shrek 2,” the numbers did mark bests for Paramount, Cruise and Spielberg.
“Worlds” also hit paydirt in Taiwan where it scored $4.2 million from 66 locations. The impressive opening trails only local fave “Kung Fu-Hustle” in Taiwanese all-time best opening charts.
Other declared territories include $2.7 million from 305 locations in Brazil, $6 milllion from 268 locations in Australia, $6.8 million from 480 locations in Mexico and $8 million from 846 locations in Germany.
Germany was comparatively soft, which Cripps attributed to the weather and stagnant state of biz in the territory.
The only other piece of disconcerting news for UIP was emerging reports from the distribbery’s territory managers that “Worlds” has been pirated in Mexico and Russia. On June 27, Cripps proudly announced to Euro exhibs attending the Cinema Expo confab that there were no reports of piracy.