'Wolverine' still growls, but piracy takes toll

Twentieth Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” had claws sharp enough to survive a pirate attack, but it does appear to have taken a hit in a handful of foreign markets.

Fox insiders say they will never know how much the piracy cost the film worldwide but have floated a figure as high as $20 million.

“Wolverine” opened to $85 million domestically and $73.1 million internationally for an impressive worldwide total of $158.1 million.

In many territories, the prequel saw some of the best numbers of any film in the “X-Men” franchise. But in a handful of markets, it underperformed. Those territories include Germany, Korea and Thailand.

A working copy of “Wolverine” was leaked on the Internet a month in advance of the movie’s opening. The pirated version, which lacked many special effects, has been downloaded roughly 4.5 million times, according to the studio.

Had the copy been a more complete version, “Wolverine” could have been far more damaged at the box office.

Piracy has long been a problem in Germany, and now Spain has also become a hotbed for illegal downloading.In Germany, “Wolverine” grossed $3.1 million, well behind the openings of the three previous films.

“Wolverine” opened to $2.3 million in Korea, slightly behind the opening of the last pic, “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Film placed No. 2 in Korea, behind local-language pic “Thirst” ($4.1 million).

Pic also should have done bigger business in Thailand.

The good news was that in Malaysia and the Philippines — also rife with piracy — “Wolverine” held up.

Almost everywhere else, “Wolverine’s” bow was bountiful.

“Wolverine” wasn’t just affected by piracy; because of the flu outbreak, Fox had to delay the opening of the film in Mexico, a huge territory for the franchise.

Without these factors, Fox insiders say “Wolverine’s” international debut probably would have at least matched the domestic opening.

Its worldwide total is now an impressive $158.1 million.

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