Film is sixth biggest foreign launch of all time

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” found a massive international treasure with $143 million at 8,300 playdates in 56 markets — the sixth biggest foreign launch of all time.

As expected due to the franchise’s worldwide recognition, “Crystal Skull” dominated in every market with all demos responding strongly. Paramount reported that the U.K. led the way with $21.5 million, following by France with $14.1 million, Germany with $12.6 million, Spain with $11.7 million, South Korea with $10 million, Australia with $9 million, Russia with $8.4 million, Italy with $6.5 million, Brazil with $5.7 million and Mexico with $4.5 million.

The offshore opening nearly matched the $144 million launch of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” Only four other films — “Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “The Da Vinci Code” — have posted bigger international opening weekends.

“Crystal Skull easily outperformed “Transformers,” which went on to gross nearly $400 million, in major markets such as 84% higher in the U.K., 138% better in France and 153% higher in Germany.

Several mid-tier markets generated notable numbers for “Crystal Skull” such as Poland with $3.7 million — 384% better than “Transformers. Denmark grossed $2.4 million and Taiwan generated $2.1 million.

After four days, the fourth Indiana Jones pic is already the fourth best performer in foreign markets among 2008 titles, trailing only “Iron Man,” “Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis” and “10,000 B.C.”

The frame also saw Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” continue generating decent biz early in its foreign run with $18 million at 3,360 from 13 markets. Japan — the only major market without a “Crystal Skull” opening — led the way with a first-place launch weekend of $7.7 million at 320 as it outgrossed the next four films.

“Caspian,” which will expand gradually offshore over the next two months, has already cumed $49 million internationally with grosses 15% ahead of the original “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in the same territories. Mexico led the holdover markets for “Caspian” with $3.1 million, down 50%; Russia with $2.4 million and South Korea with $1.9 million.

“Caspian” also played well in India — where “Crystal Skull” opens next weekend — with $820,000 to boost its two-week cume to $4.1 million, 70% higher than the entire run of the original.

“Iron Man,” which dominated the previous three frames, stayed a player with $12.5 million at 8,000 to push its international cume to $228 million — the top figure for a 2008 title but a number that’s likely to be surpassed by “Crystal Skull” in the next week.

Fox’s “What Happens in Vegas” remained a decent draw as a counter-programmer with $12.5 million at 3,800 in 56 markets, pushing its international cume to $77.8 million in three weeks. Germany continued to draw well with $2.1 million, off only 15%.

By contrast, Warner Bros.’ “Speed Racer” continued to crash and burn, dropping 58% to a quiet $3 million at 3,400 in 40 markets in its third frame. The high-priced tentpole has shown little traction internationally, cuming just $29.8 million from foreign markets.

Sony’s “Made of Honor” took in $3.4 million at 1,745 in 25 markets to raise its foreign cume to $25.6 million and its “21” drew $1.8 million at 1,025 in 37 territories to lift the offshore total to $49.3 million.

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