Disney film conquers global box office

Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” may not have met all of the sky-high expectations on its home turf over the Memorial Day weekend. But with 62% of the pic’s worldwide total coming from overseas, “Pirates” sailed heartily on foreign coin.

Internationally, “Pirates” set an overseas opening record by spearing $251 million over six days, $19 million ahead of “Spider-Man 3.”

However, scuttlebutt ensued when Spidey’s home studio, Sony, fired back that the “Pirates” booty call should have been counted as a seven day figure, since Buena Vista Intl. opened the pic a day earlier than reported in France and Italy — on May 22. Sony asserted “Spider-Man” should be given the record, for grossing $418.1 million in its first seven days.

BVI responded that any biz on May 22 amounted to $1.2 million at 251 playdates from French showings and $200,000 from previews in Italy. BVI said global B.O. on “Pirates” scored $404 million, beating out the $382 million “Spider-Man 3″ earned over its first six days in release.

Either way, “Pirates” poked record-breaking openings in 17 territories: Argentina, Ecuador, Holland, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine and Venezuela.

And internationally, Disney’s estimates were lower than actual returns once final receipts were tallied. For instance, Germany contributed significantly more than originally estimated, with a bump of about $3 million, up to $22.9 million. That trailed only the U.K.’s $34.5 million.

Other hefty hauls came from France ($22 million), South Korea ($19.3 million), Japan ($18.4 million), Russia ($15.4 million), Spain ($13.2 million) and Australia ($10.5 million).

After its world debut, just two key markets remained, including India and China.

Eyeing Europe’s numbers more closely, Blighty’s biz on “Pirates” was helped by bad weather and a Monday public holiday, which helped Johnny Depp and company top the “Pirates” Euro list, leaving the competish dead in the water.

Pic was also able to knock Spidey off its perch in Gaul. “Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End” took in $16.8 million on 783 for Buena Vista after five days in France. Some crix from major papers actually sang its praises: Le Parisien gave top marks; Le Figaroscope raved.

As a result, “Spider-Man 3″ was down 68% on the week, earning Gaumont Columbia TriStar $2.17 million on 322 in its fourth frame. It’s cumed more than $46 million in Gaul to date.

In Italy, “Pirates” was impacted by the European Cup football final, won by A.C. Milan. “At World’s End” did not break any records in Italy, where it nabbed a hefty $9.2 million five-day take on 909, per box office compiler Cinetel, which monitors 85% of the country’s screens.

Latest “Pirates” installment had a $7.4 million first weekend, well under the $10.3 million first-frame take for “Pirates 2,” and slightly below the $8.1 million scored recently by Spidey’s Friday-Sunday opening figures. Still, Captain Jack and his posse accounted for better than 70% of the Italo box office, more than double the previous frame and in line with exhibs expectations.

“World’s End” took a trio of records in Spain: biggest weekend ever, E8.842 million ($11. 9 million); biggest single-day ever ($4.9 million, Saturday night); and the biggest opening ever (a four-day $12.8 million). But “Pirates 3″ still has naysayers, and it doesn’t look like clear sailing for the boffo buccaneers. Figures for Monday were $476,320, a fraction of the “Pirates 2″ first Monday trawl of $2.6 million. Looking back, “Pirates 2″ had the double advantage of coming out mid-August last year and kicking off an effective five-day weekend as Spain went on holiday at the time.

Spanning the globe, other records for the bucs came from Down Under, where the pic was released on 606 screens as the widest-ever release in Oz. Pic landed 46 screens ahead of previous record-holder, Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code,” which opened May 2006 on 560 screens.

Despite its No. 2 ranking overall, Spidey showed it had legs, taking in another $20.7 million to raise his cume to $500.9 million overseas.

But the rest of the top five didn’t do much damage at the B.O. Paramount’s “Shrek the Third” hadn’t entered enough markets –just four — to really make hay. The pic was No. 3, with just about $7.5 million. Warner Bros.’ “Zodiac” continued having more luck abroad than at home, slicing into the No. 4 spot on the international charts. And zombie pic “28 Weeks Later” from Fox scared up a No. 5 finish, with $1.3 million from 11 markets.

Dave McNary in Hollywood, John Hopewell in Spain, Ed Meza in Germany and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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