'Avatar' still on top on international screens

The international B.O. saw a crop of fresh openings over the Feb. 12-14 weekend, led by Warner Bros.’ day-and-date release of “Valentine’s Day” with $35 million at 4,600 screens in 57 markets. “Valentine’s” was No. 2 after “Avatar,” which still held the top spot for the weekend, with $59.8 million.

The love-laffer’s overseas performance was particularly impressive, since Valentine’s Day is typically a more popular holiday in the U.S., and romantic comedies don’t always work as well overseas.

“Valentine’s Day” opened in top form in Australia and the U.K. The pic earned $6.7 million from 373 engagement in Australia, the second-highest opening ever in the territory for a romantic comedy behind only “Sex and the City,” which grossed $7.7 million (from 452).

In the U.K., the pic bowed with $5.8 million at 503 screens. Both launches unseated previous frame-topper “Avatar,” which earned $5.4 million in Blighty and $2.6 million in Australia.

The European totals repped more than 60% of the overseas grosses for “Valentine’s Day,” while Australia and New Zealand earned some 20% of the pic’s total weekend gross.

Asian territories saw the start of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 14, and while it’s debatable whether that would affect Japan’s box office, the fact is that “Avatar” was down only 9% in its eighth frame there to $5.6 million at 569 venues. The pic has cumed $119.4 million in that market.

“Avatar,” still playing on 8,214 screens in 71 markets, has amassed a total $1.69 billion internationally for a worldwide total of $2.36 billion.

The top territory for “Avatar” was Germany with $6.1 million at 554, slipping 31% in its ninth frame, for a cume of $125.8 million. France became the pic’s highest overall grosser with $5.5 million for the weekend, totaling $156.6 million. In China, “Avatar” earned $5.1 million for a cume of $155.1 million.

The day-and-date release of tween fantasy “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” added to a profitable weekend for Fox, opening to $27.9 million at 5,847 screens in 39 territories. Russia led the attack with $3.4 million at 811 screens, followed by South Korea with $3.3 million at 322.

School holidays in several European markets should help fuel “Percy’s” holdover performance. The pic earned $3.2 million at 538 in France and $2.4 million at 647 in Germany.

Fox launched two local co-productions, “My Name Is Khan” and “Hot Summer Days,” both earning boffo results in their respective markets.

In India, “Khan,” toplined by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, opened with $9.2 million from 1,450 engagements, enough to top the market despite a call by a fundamentalist Indian protest group to ban the pic.

The drama, about a Muslim man with Asperger’s syndrome, became the highest opening ever for a Bollywood film in the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates, earning $1.5 million on 91 screens and $1.1 million on 35, respectively.

“While initially driven by the power of this extraordinary cast and director (Karan Johar), it is ‘My Name Is Khan’ as a film that has captivated audiences everywhere we have opened,” says Fox Intl. Prods. prexy Sanford Panitch.

“Hot Summer Days” saw similar boffo results after launching as the top local film in China with $3.8 million at 1,250 screens.

Universal’s “The Wolfman” also opened day-and-date in 37 territories, with top results in the U.K. of $3.7 million from 404 engagements behind “Valentine’s Day” and “Avatar.” “Wolfman” grossed $21.8 million from a total of 4,256 locations. In Spain, the pic launched in the No. 2 spot with $2.4 million on 426 screens, but debuted with limited bite in France, with $1.7 million at 388 and Germany, with $1.2 million at 510.

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

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