Early international opening pays off for “Iron Man 2”

3D titles hold well overseas

Paramount and Marvel Entertainment mounted an aggressive international rollout of “Iron Man 2,” with boffo results over the April 30-May 2 weekend at the international box office.

The franchise sequel debuted in a whopping 53 territories more than a week before its U.S. debut, earning $100.2 million on 6,845 screens. The date of the extensive overseas bow marks the earliest a film franchise has kickstarted the summer box office internationally.

Meanwhile, thanks to ticket upcharges, the 3D holdovers, such as Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” and Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans,” fared best in the wake of the red-hot “Iron Man 2” run.

“Iron Man 2” debuted April 28 in six markets, led by France, which earned $1.6 million during its first day of business. That territory repped 73% of the film’s total $2.2 million opening-day grosses.

Pic’s early bow came in time for the overseas May Day holiday, which fell on a Saturday this year.

The timing of the World Cup soccer tourney was also a key factor in lengthening “Iron Man 2’s” summer playability.

Typically, the World Cup, which this year runs June 11 through July 11, creates a B.O. dead zone on the international front, as auds stay home for the games. Most studios choose to frontload May and early June to maximize a film’s summer run.

The strategy proved successful for Par, with “Iron Man 2” outperforming its predecessor by 26% in the comparable 53 opening territories, based on local currencies. The first offering saw a more tepid launch in 2008, earning approximately $19 million in 19 territories, but went on to cume $247.7 million internationally.

Top weekend performers for “Iron Man 2” were the U.K. and South Korea. In Blighty, the film earned $12.2 million on 528 screens, up 49% from the first pic; while in South Korea, it bettered its predecessor by 79%, for a weekend total of $10.8 million on 855.

Other notable territories included Australia, with $8.8 million, followed by an $8.2 million take in Gaul. In Russia, “Iron Man 2” also grossed $8.2 million and stands as Par’s highest opening for a live action film there.

Large-screen exhib Imax repped a record-breaking portion of the film’s opening, with $2.3 million on 48 screens for a per-screen average of $47,000. Par’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” previously held the title, opening to $2.1 million on Imax screens.

“Iron Man 2,” which will launch this weekend in key markets including China and Germany, is the first release for Marvel under Disney’s tenure, and also reps Marvel’s second-highest opening, behind “Spider-Man 3.”

Meanwhile, “Alice in Wonderland” still managed to gross a healthy weekend take of $22.5 million for an international cume of $607 million. Worldwide total for “Alice” stands at $936 million, and should have no problems passing the $1 billion mark worldwide in the coming weeks.

The 3D holdover made the most of Japan’s Golden Week holiday, improving a sizable 16% in its third frame for a $12.7 million weekend gross.

Spain and Brazil also turned in solid weekend numbers, with $4.3 million and $3.3 million, respectively. “Alice’s” top three territories accounted for 90% of the film’s weekend earnings.

Warners’ 3D epic “Clash” took in $18.8 million in 61 markets on 8,080 screens, bringing its international cume to $274.8 million, 64% of which comes from 3D revenue.

“Clash” still couldn’t outpace “Alice” in Japan, but managed to hold steady, dropping a mere 7% in its soph sesh. “Clash” grossed $2.2 million on 481 screens during the territory’s holiday period, boosting its overall gross to $8.3 million.

In Mexico, the pic claimed the No. 2 spot, with $2 million on 764 screens, of which 269 were 3D-equipped. Cume in Mexico rose to $17.2 million. Blighty ranks as the top grossing market for “Clash,” with $29.1 million, followed by Russia and China, with $24.3 million and $21.2 million respectively.

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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