'This Is It' trumps Disney 3D pic at the box office

Robert Zemeckis’ family 3D entry “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” didn’t find much holiday spirit at the foreign box office over the Nov. 11-13 weekend, easily bested by holdover “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”

“Christmas Carol,” bowing in 18 territories, grossed $12 million from 2,750 screens in 18 international territories.

Sony’s “This Is It” grossed $29.5 million from 8,623 screens in 110 markets for a foreign cume of $129.2 million in its second frame and boffo worldwide total of $186.2 million.

Most box office observers had expected “Christmas Carol” to pull bigger numbers (film also came in on the lower end of expectations domestically), particularly since it is the widest 3D release to date.

Opening foreign gross for “Christmas Carol” was led by the U.K., where it grossed a somewhat disappointing $2.9 million from 645 screens. Disney threw a lavish London preem for the film, which rivals say cost $180 million to produce.

Some reviews characterized the film as being too dark for younger kids.

But Disney has plenty of time to make up ground. Zemeckis’ holiday pic “The Polar Express” had a slow box office buildup, going on to gross $124.1 million internationally and $180.8 million domestically. U.K. was the biggest foreign territory, turning in $3.2 million. Christmas Carol” opened 37% ahead of “Polar Express” in the U.K.

“Carol” has the 3D market to itself in terms of new releases until 20th Century Fox opens “Avatar” day and date on Dec. 18. Of the film’s total foreign opening, 62% came from 3D screens.

Mexico was the biggest territory after the U.K., turning in $1.8 million from 605 playdates.

The top finish for “This Is It” reinforced Jackson’s enormous popularity overseas. Sesh was led by Japan, where the concert rehearsal film grossed $3.9 million from 319 screens. In France, the film opened to $3.3 million from 463.

reclaimed No. 1 in its third outing with $3.3 million from 541.

“Up” grossed almost as much as “Christmas Carol” in the U.K., earning $2.1 million from 762 for a cume of $51.6 million. Pic opens in Japan on Dec. 5.

“Couples Retreat” enjoyed a strong launch in Germany, grossing $2.6 million at 338 to place No. 3 (ahead of “Christmas Carol”).

In a near-even split, “Goats” grossed $2 million from 306 in the U.K. via Momentum Pictures, and $1.8 million off 268 via Medusa in Italy.

“The marketing push has been spectacular. Online word-of-mouth has been very, very active,?” said Isabel Garcia, programmer at Catalonia’s Acec multiplex chain.

Andrew Horn in Berlin, Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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