Prequel tops with international audiences

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” kicked the summer season overseas into high gear by dominating the foreign box office with $73 million at 9,234 playdates in 101 markets — by far the biggest weekend of 2009.

With Fox culminating a massive worldwide promo push, the U.K. led the way with $9.8 million in the best Brit launch this year, followed by $7.4 million in France, $5.7 million in Australia, $5.5 million in Spain, $4.8 million in Brazil, $4 million in Germany, $3.7 million in Russia and $3.5 million in Italy. Fox has postponed the launch of “Wolverine” in Mexico because of the flu outbreak.

Fox said the fourth “X-Men” pic generated the top launch numbers among the franchise entries in many markets. Three years ago, “X-Men: The Last Stand” opened day and date with $76.3 million on its way to cuming $225 million overseas — the seventh highest foreign grosser that year.

“Wolverine” came in second in South Korea with $3 million, trailing the $4.1 million launch of “Thirst,” Universal’s co-production with Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park. Fox also scored its biggest opening weekends all time in Brazil, Singapore with $1.56 million and Malaysia with $1.2 million.

“Wolverine” came in 62% higher than the $45 million take for “Fast and Furious” on Easter weekend, which had been the the year’s top weekend gross. The Hugh Jackman starrer is already the seventh highest foreign grosser among 2009 entries, trailing “Fast and Furious,” “Monsters Vs. Alients,” “Valkyrie,” “Gran Torino,” “Red Cliff 2,” and “Watchmen.”

“Wolverine” will see competition next weekend from Paramount’s day and date launch of “Star Trek.” And with summer tentpole season starting, studios have opted for only a few counterprogramming forays.

Zac Efron’s “17 Again” led the rest of the pack with $8.3 million at 1,852 in 25 marketes, led by a $3.6 million launch in Spain — trailing “Wolverine” by $1.9 million. “17 Again” has cumed $38 million outside the United States.

In its first major foreign launches Disney’s “Hannah Montana: The Movie” connected with its pre-teen demo with $6.7 million at 1,050 in a dozen markets, led by $2.7 million in the U.K., $2 million in Italy and $700,000 in Norway. The Mexican opening has been pushed back three weeks.

“Fast and Furious” also took in $6.7 million at 6,345 in 60 territories with Uni noting strong holds in several markets as foreign cume hit $182.4 million. Par’s “Monsters Vs. Aliens” tacked on $6.1 million at 5,357 in 60 markets to lift the toon’s international total to $152.4 million.

Universal saw “State of Play,” still early in its foreign run, perform respectably with $5.1 million at 1,422 in 14 territories including a moderate $1.3 million Italian launch. “State” has cumed $12.4 million overseas.

Warner’s “Gran Torino” added $2.3 million at 1,840 to drive its foreign cume to $105.2 million while Uni’s “Duplicity” took in $2.1 million at 1,426 to push its international total to $29.1 million. In France, biopic “Coco Avant Chanel” grossed $1.9 million in its second frame, off 31% for a $5.4 million French cume.

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