Jackson docu wins domestic, foreign markets

Auds around the world helped Sony’s “This Is It” open to a mammoth $68.5 million at the international B.O. — the fifth biggest foreign bow of the year — but the Michael Jackson pic’s domestic debut was more modest at $32.5 million in its first five days.

Worldwide opening haul of $101 million for five days, topped by Japan’s $10.4 million, led Sony to announce it is extending the film’s two-week run by three weeks in North America. Overseas, the decision to extend will be made on a territory-by-territory basis.

“This Is It” bowed Tuesday night. Domestic total included $21.3 million in weekend ticket sales from 3,481 theaters, enough to win the sesh over Paramount’s sleeper hit “Paranormal Activity,” according to Rentrak.

“Paranormal” nevertheless continued to draw moviegoers, declining just 22% and adding 459 runs for a total theater count of 2,404. Pic grossed an estimated $16.5 million for a per-location average of $6,880, the second best of the frame, and a cume of $84.8 million in its sixth sesh.

In the U.S., Halloween can dampen moviegoing, and this year was no different. The domestic B.O. has been running ahead of last year, but ticket sales for the holiday weekend were essentially flat with last year.

One of the few titles appealing to older females, Fox Searchlight’s “Amelia” improved its standing in its second sesh, moving into the top 10.

Adding 250 runs, the Amelia Earhart biopic dipped 23% to an estimated $3 million from 1,070 runs to tie with Summit Entertainment’s “Astro Boy” for No. 8. “Amelia” finished the frame with a cume of $8.3 million.

“Astro Boy” fell 55% in its second frame to an estimated $3 million from 3,020 runs; cume is $10.9 million. Toon was fully financed by Imagi Entertainment.

Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures’ “Saw VI,” hurt by “Paranormal,” likewise fell steeply in its second frame. Horror pic fell to No. 5, declining 61% to an estimated $5.6 million from 3,306 theaters for a cume of $22.8 million. Pic will likely be the lowest grossing in the blockbuster horror franchise.

Holdovers “Law Abiding Citizen” and “Couples Retreat” continued to place in the top five.

“Citizen,” Overture’s biggest commercial success to date, dipped 41% to an estimated $7.3 million from 2,764 runs for a cume of $51.4 million in its third frame. Pic came in No. 3 for the weekend.

Taking the No. 4 spot, “Couples Retreat” fell 43% to an estimated $6.1 million for a cume of $86.7 million in its fourth frame.

Nabbing the highest location average of any film was Sony Pictures Classics holdover “An Education.” Film grossed an estimated $504,831 from 48 runs for an average of $10,517 and cume of $1.6 million in its fourth frame.

Among specialty openers, Searchlight’s “Gentlemen Broncos” opened to an estimated $10,006 from two runs for a so-so per location average of $5,003.

Troy Duffy’s sequel “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” fared better, grossing an estimated $461,614 from 68 theaters in its debut for a location average of $6,788. Apparition is distrib.

Apparition co-topper Bob Berney said the film’s perf reflects Duffy’s ongoing fanbase. Original film was released eight years ago.

On a much grander scale, Jackson fans turned the critically acclaimed “This Is It” into an immediate winner for Sony, which paid concert promoter AEG Entertainment $60 million for the rights to distribute the film.

“The numbers are incredible, and we got some of the highest exit polls we’ve ever seen,” Sony worldwide prexy of distribution Rory Bruer said. “It goes far beyond being a concert movie. Kenny Ortega created a film that is compelling and exciting and an incredible tribute to the King of Pop.”

Sony had expected the film to open at $30 million-$40 million in the U.S.

Domestically, “This Is It” barely beat Disney’s 3D concert film “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” which posted an opening weekend take of $31.1 million. Like “This Is It,” that film’s run was extended after opening weekend.

While “Hannah Montana” was a tween sensation, “This Is It” appealed to a decidedly older demo in the U.S. Of the aud, 62% were over age 25. Pic skewed slightly female at 52%.

Livelier overseas business wasn’t surprising since Jackson’s music has racked up far more sales abroad than in the U.S. in recent years. “This Is It” bowed in more than 100 territories, with a worldwide print count of 15,000.

Pic’s international bow finished just behind 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which debuted to $73.1 million in early May 2009.

Jackson pic was the first concert film to have a day-and-date release around the globe. Japan’s $10.4 million from 332 playdates was followed by the U.K.’s $7.6 million from 806, Germany’s $6.3 million from 930, France’s $5.8 million from 484 and Australia’s $3.6 million from 284.

Elsewhere at the foreign B.O., Disney’s “Up” came in No. 2, grossing $12.8 million from 4,700 runs in 27 territories for a cume of $352.7 million and a boffo worldwide haul of $645.6 million.

Mouse House’s “G-Force” stayed high up on the chart as well, grossing $6.1 million from 2,735 playdates in 32 territories for a foreign cume of $148 million and worldwide total of $267 million.

Disney also made headlines in Russia with local production “Book of Masters,” which topped the B.O. with $5.2 million from 750 locations. It’s the biggest opening ever for a family title in Russia, according to the Mouse House.

In the U.K., Fox’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” grossed $2.4 million from 486 in its second sesh to place No. 3 behind “This Is It” and “Up,” respectively. “Mr. Fox” ended the frame with a cume of $9 million.

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