While Tom Cruise hasn’t conquered the world this time, “Mission: Impossible 3” has managed to avoid disaster in its first two weeks in foreign markets.
“MI3” had banked $137.7 million in overseas grosses as of May 16 from 57 markets — nearly $50 million ahead of the domestic take at the same point.
With Japan contributing serious coin when it opens in July, UIP’s actioner’s likely to headed for the same territory in terms of total offshore biz as the first two versions. “Mission: Impossible” grossed $270 million internationally in 1996 and “MI2” hit $330 million four years later.
The most stellar performance came from South Korea with a world-leading $22.4 million two-week cume. UIP noted that the film hit 3 million admissions in a dozen days — faster than any of its other pics and nearly twice as fast as “King Kong.”
Blighty biz remained respectable for “MI3” with $19 million as of May 16, following a 42% decline in its second frame. “Given that it’s the second sequel of a franchise and offers little that hasn’t been seen before, I don’t think the results are bad,” one U.K. exhibitor said.
But other foreign exhibitors and bookers weren’t completely pleased, given the sky-high expectations and the fact that rivals held back other launches during the two frames. For example, Warner Bros. limited day-and-date launches of “Poseidon” to half a dozen action-oriented Asian markets, totaling $4..3 million at 729 playdates in its opening frame.
Best “Poseidon” openings came in Thailand with $1.24 million at 220 screens, grabbing an impressive 55% of the cume for the top five, and in Singapore with $867,000 at 60. Studio’s counting on foreign biz to salvage downbeat domestic takings with the first major market openings coming June 2 in the U.K. and June 14 in France.
In the meantime, though, international exhibitors are counting on blockbuster biz in the next few weeks from worldwide day-and-date openings of Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code” and Fox’s “X-Men: The Last Stand.” And many are now somewhat skeptical that “MI3” can show legs with Sony’s attention-getting bow for “Da Vinci” at nearly 12,000 playdates, which started with May 17 launches in Belgium, France and French-speaking Switzerland.
In France, for example, “MI3” stumbled 55% in its soph sesh as it again finished well behind local comedy “Camping.” Two-week cume for “MI3” hit $10.8 million in two weeks but biz was expected to keep heading south due to the combo of unease over Cruise’s persona plus the strong desire to see “Da Vinci.”
In Italy, “MI3” saw a 51% slide in its soph sesh as summer heat hindered moviegoing. The 12-day Italian grosses totaled a solid but hardly spectacular $5.8 million with bookers asserting that they were expecting the take to be about 30% higher at this point.
“That’s a heavy drop for us,” one Italian exhibitor groused. “The film’s really letting us down.”
In Spain, “MI3” slid 48% and had cumed $6.66 million as of May 16 as it took the brunt of the blame for the overall weekend biz sliding 21% to $7.6 million — the lowest figure this year.
“The film didn’t perform well on its opening when nothing dared counterprogram it so we couldn’t expect a good hold for it,” one exhibitor noted.
And “MI3” showed some life in Germany with a 19% decline following its dismal opening weekend, which UIP blamed on sunny weather rather than a Cruise backlash. “Germans cherish the sun,” one exhibitor said. “It’s like a crime to stay indoors when the sun is shining.”
But German “MI3” biz, which hit $6.3 million May 16, was unimpressive, given that it’s usually the third biggest market for movies. The German cume barely eclipsed takings in Australia, where the weekend’s overall biz of $5 million was the low point of 2006.
Still, “MI3” represented a milestone in that it became the third pic this year to gross over $100 million in foreign receipts. It joined BVI’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and Fox’s “Ice Age: The Meltdown,”which remains a major player after well over a month in many markets with foreign grosses hitting $421.6 million as May 16.
German auds have sparked to “Meltdown” with Teuton grosses near $59 million with its sixth weekend easily outgrossed the opening of French toon “Asterix and the Vikings.”
“Traditional animation today does not really stand a chance against CG animated films with good stories,” a German booker said. “They are simply more visually appealing to kids … and adults.”
Blighty biz for “Meltdown” stayed solid with nearly $54 million cume. Exhibs attribute the enduring appeal to a combination of a lack of meaningful competish, the huge popularity of the first pic on homevid and the film’s appeal to adults.
The success of “Ice Age 2” augurs well for UIP’s “Over the Hedge” and BVI’s “Cars” in the U.K., one booker said. “CGI seems fairly bankable and we hope for a domino effect.”
The “Ice Age” sequel has set all-time records in Mexico with $28.8 million, Venezuela and Ecuador along with a Fox record in Russia.
(Archie Thomas in the U.K., Liza Klaussmann in France, Sheri Jennings in Italy, Ed Meza in Germany, Esther de Prado in Spain and Michaela Boland in Australia contributed to this report.)