Big bow for film in international markets

Getting a leg up on its overseas competition, Universal bowed franchise tentpole “Fast Five” this weekend — a week before its Stateside berth — in key markets like the U.K., Australia and South Korea, collecting an estimated $24 million on 957 screens.

A more-crowded than ever summer pipeline has studios feeling the crunch internationally, especially since offshore grosses continue to shore up bottom lines.

In Oz, “Fast Five” opened at No. 1 with $10.7 million, making it U’s best-ever opening in Australia, while in Blighty, “Fast Five” grossed $8.8 million, 6% more than the previous “Fast and Furious” installment. Pic’s debut in Oz went head-to-head with Paramount’s early bow of “Thor,” and wound up beating the Par-Marvel tentpole by an estimated 41%.

Studios launched their pics early, particularly in Australia, to coincide with public and school holidays, and to get a jumpstart on the summer competish. By bowing a week early overseas, Par gives “Thor” a week of added playtime before Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” opens worldwide the weekend of May 20.

Meanwhile, “Fast Five’s” early bow in the U.K. and South Korea, where it grossed $3.4 million, allowed a week before “Thor” opens.

U expands “Fast Five” over the next two weeks, with 10 additional markets, including Germany, Russia and Spain, set to go next week. “Thor” will open everywhere next weekend in advance of its May 2 Stateside launch, with the exception of Japan, where the film is set to open on July 2.

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