‘Prince of Persia’ cuts swathe overseas

Pic reaches $95 million in pre-World Cup run

While U.S. auds seemed distracted by Memorial Day weekend activities, overseas moviegoers paid ample attention to the frame’s newest entries: Disney’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and Warner Bros.’ “Sex and the City 2.”

‘Sex’ conquers Europe

Both pics launched Stateside with lower-than-expected returns, but on the international front, “Prince” turned in a princely soph sesh, without the benefit of a long weekend, grossing $61 million for a worldwide cume of $133.3 million as of May 31. “Sex 2,” which debuted day-and-date in 17 territories, earned $31.8 million outside North America.

Disney decided to bow its swords-and-sandals epic a week before its U.S. debut because of the World Cup soccer tourney, which begins June 11.

The move proved profitable for the Mouse House, with “Prince’s” international cume reaching $95.5 million in 47 territories, boosting revenues for the studio’s international arm past the $1 billion mark for its 16th consecutive year, the longest streak in industry history.

Warner Intl. reached the same overseas heights last month — a record-setting pace for the distrib, with “Sex 2” set to expand to key international territories including France and Japan this week.

“Prince’s” top territories accounted for 70% of its weekend take and 55% of the pic’s overseas cume to date. Thanks to markets including Russia, China and France, the Jake Gyllenhaal starrer slipped a mere 32% in its second sesh.

In Russia, the epic vidgame adaptation debuted with $9.7 million, outpacing Paramount’s “Iron Man 2” debut by more than 30%. “Prince” placed second in that territory to Par’s massive 3D toon holdover “Shrek Forever After,” which dropped only 37% in its second sesh, earning $12.2 million from 700 swamps after having scored $20 million the previous week — an industry-best start.

“Prince” got off to a healthy leap in China, with $8.1 million, while in France, the pic launched with $5.5 million. Japanese auds opted instead for Disney’s holdover 3D title “Alice in Wonderland,” which topped the frame for its seventh consecutive week, raising “Alice’s” cume to nearly $120 million in that territory.

“Prince’s” Middle Eastern flavor perhaps boosted appeal in India where its $3.3 million take ranks as the all-time highest opener for Disney, and the best beginning for a Western title in 2010.

Warner added overseas flair to its “Sex” sequel, with the pic’s ladies (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) gallivanting across the Arabian desert.

In Blighty, the film came in 24% ahead of its predecessor, earning $9.2 million for the weekend on 529 screens, while German auds christened the sequel as the territory’s highest-grossing opener of the year; despite tough competition from the Eurovision Song Contest on local TV, “Sex 2” launched with $7.3 million at 982 locations, including previews, outpacing the original by 23%.

Pic opened June 2 in Gaul, topping the box office with $1.16 million at 525 locations despite largely scathing reviews.

One critic from Le Journal du Dimanche opined, “The pace slackens when the New Yorkers fly to the Middle East … (a section) weighed down in the burlesque.”

Key territories in which the pic opened on the first weekend in June include Australia, Spain, Mexico, South Korea and Russia. The latter two rep significant additions to “Sex’s” line-up as both are up-and-coming territories on the global front, continuing to rise through the ranks of European and Asian markets.

Par’s “Shrek Forever After” has yet to open in most international territories, earning $18.4 million in its second week in 15 markets for a $53.5 million cume. The 3D fourquel will continue its overseas expansion throughout June and July to benefit from tykes on summer vacation. Also, with most adult fare looking to avoid the World Cup diversion, “Shrek” could potentially strike a chord among family auds. The next major market to get the toon is Australia on June 17.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Clifford Coonan in Beijing, Ed Meza in Berlin, Lauren Seligman in Paris and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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