Tim Burton musical claims #1 spot in top markets

Tim Burton’s bigscreen musical adaptation “Sweeney Todd” is off to a singing start overseas, coming in No. 1 for the Jan. 25-27 weekend as it bowed in top markets including the U.K., France and Australia.

For the frame, film grossed an impressive $18.7 million from 1,760 playdates in 11 markets, slitting the throat of Warners’ “I Am Legend,” which had come in No. 1 at the overseas box office for five consecutive weekends.

“Sweeney Todd,” also starring Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, is a DreamWorks-Warner Bros. co-production that Warners is distribbing internationally. DreamWorks-Par is domestic distributor.

Musicals don’t always play as well overseas as domestically, but “Sweeney Todd” — adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical — seems to be bucking that trend, reflecting Depp’s appeal.

In the U.K., “Todd” carved its way to a boffo $8.8 million at 436 screens, according to Rentrak figs. The pic, which earned Depp an Oscar nom, dominated weekend cinema biz with a screen average of $20,617.

Bookers attribute the bumper “Sweeney Todd” haul to a built-in fanbase for Burton and Depp, the campaign by Warner Bros. and excellent reviews.

“January is an excellent trading period. It’s dark, cold and miserable and everyone is at work. No one is going to the beach or barbecues, so cinema benefits,” said an exhib on the current sunny state of the marketplace.

Exhibs report “Todd” has performed exceptionally well in towns with well-established Goth groups such as Leeds.

In France, Depp’s adopted land, “Todd” notched a monster bow, beating out the launch of the Coen brothers’ modern-day Western and Oscar best pic nom “No Country for Old Men.”

Musical took in $4.1 million in its first five days on 365 for Warners.

“Sweeney Todd” debuted in Australia to $1.5 million, but came in No. 2 after narrowly losing out to 20th Century Fox’s Katherine Heigl romantic comedy “27 Dresses.”

“Sweeney Todd” held onto the No. 1 spot in Japan, where it had launched a week earlier. For the Jan. 25-27 frame, pic declined 36% in Japan to $2.3 million.

With a cume of $30 million already, “Sweeney Todd” is poised to make more internationally than domestically, where it has grossed $50.8 million to date.

In a coup, Russian spoof “The Very Best Film” came in No. 2 at the international box office after breaking all records in its debut in Russia and surrounding former Soviet territories.

Film grossed $16.5 million for the frame for a cume of $19.5 million in the film’s first week in release.

Pic pokes fun at Russian films, including fantasy thriller “Day Watch” and Afghan war drama “The 9th Company.”

It was produced by entertainment TV channel TNT for $5 million in association with popular local TNT show “Comedy Club.” Another $5 million was spent for marketing and advertising.

Box office pundits in Russia say the film’s phenomenal success may be due to the key 14-25 demo — the same demo as that of the show “Comedy Club.”

“This is the best box office opening ever in Russia. It is just the sort of film the youngsters that watch TNT like,” Russian Film Business Today’s Alexander Semenov told Variety.

Coming in No. 3 internationally for the Jan. 25-27 weekend was “Legend,” which grossed $15.8 million for an international cume of $290 million in its seventh week in release. Film has grossed $541.7 million worldwide.

Taking No. 4 for the frame overseas was Disney sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” which grossed $12.5 million in its sixth frame overseas for a cume of $158.7 million. Worldwide cume is $364.4 million.

Par’s monster pic “Cloverfield,” coming in No. 5 for the frame at the overseas box office, grossed a solid $9.2 million as it made its first moves into major foreign markets. Pic grossed $9.2 million from 1,345 playdates in a dozen territories, led by a $3.5 million Russian debut and a $2.4 million launch in South Korea.

Over the Feb. 1-3 frame, “Cloverfield” was set to expand into territories including Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the U.K.

“Cloverfield’s” initial results topped “The Ring,” which went on to take in $120 million. Pic grossed $65.8 million at the domestic box office through Jan. 29.

Archie Thomas in the U.K., Nick Holdsworth in Russia, Ed Meza in Germany, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Nick Vivarelli in Italy and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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