'Twilight Saga' lures even World Cup territories

Overseas audiences fed into “The Twilight Saga” frenzy during the June 30-July 4 frame with the same ravenous appetite as U.S. moviegoers.

The vampire series’ third installment, “Eclipse,” bowed day and date in a whopping 42 territories, including Spain, Italy, Australia, Russia and Mexico, with $104.2 million on 6,951 screens. Pic’s debut in major markets managed to withstand sunny weather and the World Cup soccer tourney.

In Spain, “Eclipse” drew a considerable amount of blood ($10.4 million), especially given that the country’s soccer team played June 3 during the quarter finals. According to a local TV ratings firm, the game commandeered a massive 78.1 share, but “Eclipse” dropped only 33% compared to the previous day.

Territories without a stake in the World Cup that weekend included Italy, Russia and Australia, where the pic became the country’s eighth-highest opening ever, with $10.9 million on 536. Italy contributed an additional $10.9 million, but Russia still ranks as “Eclipse’s” top earner, with a boffo $15 million, ahead of Disney’s opening for first-quarter 3D giant “Alice in Wonderland.”

Brazilian auds also turned out for the pic’s opening frame despite the country’s World Cup match on June 2. In that territory, “Eclipse” grossed $10 million on 336 screens, surpassing franchise predecessor “New Moon” by 39%.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Mexico brought in $8.6 million, surpassing “New Moon” by more than 7%, even with one fewer day of release. Major Mexican circuit Cinepolis reported that approximately 35 multiplexes in the Monterrey area closed early because of flooding caused by Hurricane Alex.

In the U.K., “Eclipse” earned a record-setting $5.7 million from Saturday, June 3, previews, with the following day’s screenings bringing the total to $9.5 million. Pic is set to launch there, along with France and South Korea, this week.

Blighty auds also boosted foreign box office receipts for Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “Shrek Forever After,” which opened to $13.1 million, including $4.6 million in previews.

Par decided to hold the toon from major European markets to prevent it from clashing with the World Cup, as well as to benefit from school vacations. After debuting more than a month ago in smaller territories, “Shrek” expanded to 30 markets, grossing an impressive $42.6 million on 4,435 screens for an international cume of $137.1 million.

The 3D toon charmed French auds in an ogre-sized way, with $11.7 million on 952 swamps, to become DWA’s all-time highest-grossing opener in that territory. Still, the latest “Shrek” surpassed the franchise’s previous offering “Shrek the Third” by a mere 1% in France, but overpowered “Kung Fu Panda” by a whopping 67%.

And despite the World Cup providing stiff competish for the toon in Germany, “Shrek” still surpassed five-day totals for “How to Train Your Dragon” by 18%. “Shrek” took in $4.1 million on 891 screens.

Falling behind “Eclipse” and “Shrek,” the frame’s other 3D toon holdover, Disney’s “Toy Story 3,” added $25.5 million on 5001 screens in 34 markets. Pic’s international cume as of July 6 stands at $165.8 million, bringing worldwide totals to $473.6 million, to become the Mouse House’s 10th-highest global grosser behind “Toy Story 2″ ($485 million).

Latin America continued to drive the threequel’s international B.O., contributing nearly $90 million (60%) of the international gross. Mexico followed with $5.5 million over the weekend, boosting the territory’s total for “Toy 3″ to $45.4 million, nearly a third of the toon’s total overseas take.

Meanwhile, Australia ranked as the toon’s top territory over the weekend, with $6.1 million for a cume of $16.3 million in its soph sesh.

Disney plans to expand “Toy 3″ in three additional markets this weekend, including Italy, Croatia and Japan, as well as France on July 14 and the U.K. on July 19. Japan should rep a considerable gain for the 3D toon, especially since the format continues to overperform in Japan. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” has cumed there a boffo $126.1 million, almost 20% of the pic’s $688.9 million foreign total.

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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