Universal points arrow at worldwide box office

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With a day-and-date opening of Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” in several overseas territories coinciding with the opening-night slot at the Cannes Film Festival, Universal and Imagine Entertainment are working hard to make the bow into a global event. The film launches this weekend at 3,503 domestic locations for an approximate worldwide total of 10,000.

“Robin Hood” opened Wednesday in three European markets, in addition to paid previews in territories including the U.K., Italy and Germany, totaling an estimated $6 million. U opens the film day-and-date in a total of 56 territories.

Domestically, “Robin Hood” debuts wide alongside two femme-driven pics: Summit’s “Letters to Juliet” and Fox Searchlight’s “Just Wright.”

The frame’s fresh offerings will compete with Paramount’s iron-clad holdover “Iron Man 2″ in its soph sesh. The comicbook sequel managed boffo earnings last weekend, with a cume of $152.8 million domestically and a hefty worldwide haul of $350.1 million as of Wednesday.

Given the pic’s sizable domestic take last weekend, some insiders suggest “Iron Man 2″ could see a drop near 55%, which would still make for a profitable second outing.

Focus Features will hope to capitalize on a record-setting Mother’s Day last weekend as specialty docu “Babies” enters its second weekend. Distrib mounted a focused marketing campaign for “Babies,” charming female auds, who shelled out $1.1 million on Sunday.

The docu earned a total $2.2 million in its debut weekend but could lose ground this week given competition from “Letters,” which enters the fray at 2,968 engagements.

“Robin Hood’s” epic storyline should appeal to the film’s targeted male demo, while stars Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett could draw older women to the multiplex. U said it expects the Cannes publicity to transfer Stateside among both demos.

Rated PG-13, “Robin Hood” marks the fourth teaming of helmer Scott and Crowe. The most recent was U’s “American Gangster,” which debuted with $43.6 million in 2007. Pic originally titled “Nottingham” and co-starring William Hurt, Max von Sydow and Mark Strong, is a revisionist take on the classic Robin Hood tale, with Crowe in the titular role and Blanchett as Marion Loxley.

U said it hopes its fresh approach to a classic tale will register with worldwide auds. Studio has had a string of disappointing B.O. performers that include “Wolfman,” “Green Zone” and, most recently, “Repo Men” which has cumed $13.8 million since its debut March 19. U will next roll out action comedy “MacGruber” May 21.

Last weekend, Summit sneaked “Letters” at 882 locations, resulting in noted definite recommends from 75% of those polled. “Letters” will look to transfer sentiment generated by Mother’s Day to its targeted demo.

Queen Latifah should draw a strong contingent of femmes to “Just Wright,” from Fox Searchlight, with 20th Century Fox distribbing. The PG-rated pic launches at 1,831 locations.

Latifah stars as a physical therapist who’s charged with treating an injured NBA All-Star athlete, played by Common. The film’s sports theme also could attract male demos, with marketing partners like Nike, Izod and Tom Ford promoting the film on ESPN during the NBA playoffs.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions’ historical biopic “Princess Kaiulani” will roll out at 30 locations. Set in 1880s Hawaii, pic tells the story of the islands’ princess (Q’orianka Kilcher) caught in the last days of the Hawaiian monarchy. Marc Forby wrote and directed the film, which bowed last October at the Hawaiian Film Festival.

Overseas, “Robin Hood” should rule the land, having already earned healthy returns in French-speaking markets and key European territories.

In France, pic took in an estimated $1.1 million Wednesday, while in the U.K., the film previewed with an estimated $1.2 million, more than double the opening day gross for U’s 2007 “The Bourne Ultimatum.” German auds also shelled out some $550,000 in preview screenings.

Par launched “Iron Man 2″ internationally on April 28 — a week before its domestic bow — to lengthen playability before “Robin Hood” entered the overseas market. The decision could prove beneficial for Par as “Robin Hood” powered opening-day grosses in several territories. Belgium and French-speaking Switzerland rounded out the film’s early debuts.

Last weekend, “Iron Man 2″ took in $57.2 million in 61 territories on 10,774 screens. Pic could lose traction overseas as “Robin Hood” will open in many of the same markets. International cume for “Iron Man 2″ stands at $206.3 million.

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