Disney film takes in largest opening ever

It’s yo-ho-ho and a treasure chest of international box office records for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

The third “Pirates” plundered a socko $245 million overseas at 17,500 playdates in 102 markets in its first six days through Monday — $13 million more than the recent six-day record set by “Spider-Man 3” — on the heels of establishing a new opening weekend mark of $214 million.

Combined with a domestic total of $156 million, the six-day worldwide cume for “At World’s End” hit $401 million as of Monday to top Spidey’s three-week-old worldwide mark by $19 million.

“At World’s End” has now sold 37 million tickets overseas and 63 million worldwide. It’s already the 70th highest foreign grosser of all time and the 85th pic to join the $400 million worldwide club.

All told, “At World’s End” set opening-weekend records in 16 markets, including Argentina, Holland, Israel, Japan (excluding local pics), Malaysia, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the Ukraine and Venezuela. In short, pic utterly dominated with market shares ranging from 70% to 85%.

Anthony Marcoly, BVI prexy of sales and distribution, noted the performance topped internal forecasts and pointed to a smallish 2% decline in international biz from Saturday to Sunday as an indication of continuing strength in coming days.

Key milestones for “At World’s End” will be matching the performance of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which posted final cumes of $642 million foreign and $1.06 billion worldwide. After six days, “At World’s End” has tallied nearly 40% of those landmarks; it’s already taken in more than 60% of the $654 million worldwide total for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.”

“At World’s End” launched Wednesday in nine foreign markets with $12.1 million, followed by $29.1 million on Thursday, $44.4 million on Friday, $64.7 million on Saturday, $63.4 million on Sunday and an estimated $31 million on Monday. Sunday’s actual figure turned out to be a beefy $8.5 million ahead of BVI’s initial estimate.

The foreign performance by the third “Pirates” pic builds momentum for what’s already been an impressive year for the Hollywood majors overseas, ignited by strong showings from “Spider-Man 3,” “Night at the Museum” and “300.” 

Thanks to heavily promoted tentpoles, international box office for the big six studios could top $10 billion this year — an impressive 16% hike over last year’s record — with stellar numbers expected from upcoming entries such as “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “Shrek the Third,” “Die Hard 4,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Transformers” and “The Simpsons Movie.”

With such an array of summer tentpoles, distributors are now forced to count on May as a key release period overseas — even though it contains few holidays for foreign markets. “At World’s End” only has two markets left in which to open: India on Friday and China on June 10.

The U.K. topped the “Pirates” parade with $26.6 million at 1,250 in its Friday-Sunday launch, and tacked on $7.6 on Monday during the Bank Holiday. As of Monday, nine other markets had cleared eight figures — France with $21.6 million at 620, followed by Germany with $20 million at 1,585, South Korea with $19.4 million at 623, Japan with $18 million at 878, Russia with $15.6 million at 700, Spain with $12.2 million at 552, Oz with $10.5 million at 606 and Mexico with $10.3 million at 1,096.

Latin America totaled $23.3 million, led by Brazil with $5.2 million, Argentina with $2.5 million and Colombia with $1.5 million. Other notable results include Taiwan with $4.8 million and Holland with $4.2 million; in Israel, the $830,000 launch of “At World’s End” smashed the opening record by 37%, set last summer by “Dead Man’s Chest.”

As for those few moviegoers not looking to check out Johnny Depp and company, “Spider-Man 3” remained the only significant draw with a fourth frame of $20.7 million at 11,600 in 77 markets as of Sunday, led by the U.K. with $2.1 million at 769 for a Brit cume of $60.5 million. The webslinger’s foreign take totaled $500.9 million for a worldwide cume of $808 million — topping the original “Spider-Man” and giving the Spidey franchise a combined $2.4 billion in total grosses.

Two holdovers — Warner’s “Zodiac” and Par’s “Shrek the Third” — gathered in some counterprogramming coin, with “Zodiac” scaring up $5.7 million at 1,490 in 19 markets, off 39% from its launch frame for a $17.9 million foreign cume. “Zodiac” turned in its best perf in France with $1.67 million at 376.

“Shrek the Third,” which will open in June and July in most markets, brought in $5 million at 443 in four territories for a $23 million foreign cume. Best biz came from Russia with $4.2 million at 263, down 65% amid the “Pirates” launch — which broke the ogre’s week-old record.

Fox’s “28 Weeks Later” led the rest of the pack with $1.3 million at 749 to boost the zombie pic’s international cume to $13.1 million — mostly from the U.K. with $8.4 million in three weeks. Studio saw a quiet Japanese launch of “Borat” with $61,000 at 31, pushing the foreign total to $131.9 million.

Universal’s sturdy “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” took in $1.1 million at 2,000 in 40 markets to raise its cume to $178 million. Its “Magicians” conjured up $270,000 at 230, off 63% in its soph sesh while its “Hot Fuzz” hit $50 million at the international box office with $105,000 at 110 in 10 territories.

Par’s “Shooter” took in $883,000 at 837 and its “Blades of Glory” grossed $653,000 at 584. Warner’s “The Reaping” grabbed $425,000 at 780 and its “300” got $257,000 at 570 for a $232 million foreign cume.

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