‘Battle’ throws ‘Punch’ in overseas race

Second weekend for LA to take over at box office

Sony’s “Battle: Los Angeles” won international bragging rights for its second straight weekend over the March 25-27 frame, besting Warner Bros.’ new addition, “Sucker Punch,” which bowed day and date with the U.S. in 23 markets, or 28% of the overseas market place.

“Battle” scored another $16.3 million from 55 markets through March 27, while “Sucker Punch,” Zack Snyder’s latest helming effort, posted a modest $6.5 million. “Battle” now has cumed $72.6 million internationally.

Despite launching in major territories like Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, “Sucker Punch” struggled to strike a chord with fanboy audiences.

Pic landed in just the No. 4 spot at the Italo B.O., grossing a muted $726,000 at 279 locations over the weekend for a per-location average of only $2,602. In Spain, the action pic fared slightly better, though it faced a tougher market, with $733,000 for seventh place. Pic went out in Spain at 260 locations, with a just-passable average of $2,819 for that territory.

“Sucker’s” overseas stumble mirrored the pic’s underwhelming debut Stateside. Local B.O. pundits suggest the film failed to engage Snyder’s core fanbase, relying too heavily on the dominant visual effects.

Warners hopes to develop word of mouth — pic’s vfx-heavy storyline did earn some followers, mainly guys under 25 — as the studio expands “Sucker” throughout the rest of the world. Pic broadens next to key territories, including France, Germany, Russia and the U.K.

Meanwhile, Sony’s “Battle” continues a sturdy overseas rollout, relying heavily on top performing holdover Asian markets including China and South Korea.

In China, the alien-invasion film fell just 33% from its boffo opening, with $7.4 million in its second outing. Pic’s local cume there reached $24.2 million, making it by far “Battle’s” top-grossing territory.

Growing Chinese box office has become a major focal point for most buzz films, and given “Battle’s” performance there, the focus is warranted. South Korea, another growing Asian market, followed far behind China in weekend standing for “Battle,” with $1.2 million at 249 locations. It helps, however, that “Battle” has 3,968 screens in China; the pic’s next highest screen count comes from India with 398.

Playing well with overseas family audiences, Paramount’s 2D toon “Rango” posted $16.1 million in its fourth week of international play, bringing the film’s overseas cume to $95.2 million. Toon has nearly expanded to every major territory, playing thus far in 55 markets.

“Rango” debuted in France on March 23, with an excellent $3.3 million at 592 locations. Without a 3D upcharge, the toon still outgrossed openings for 3D toons like “Megamind,” by 67%, and “Monsters vs. Aliens,” by 70%. Toon’s 2D-only format suggests families are still willing to visit the multiplex for a non-3D animated pic. “Rango” is the first 2D studio toon since Disney’s hand-drawn “The Princess and the Frog” in 2009.

French journos warmed to the toon, calling it “witty and offbeat, with a unique visual style — and wry humor,” per Le Figaroscope.

Elsewhere in the world, “Rango” continued to perform well in Russia — a major market for animated fare — with $3.3 million, down just 27% from its debut there, for a local cume of $9.3 million. Australia also contributed fine results, posting $1.5 million, down 32%, and in Blighty, the toon was off by 32% for a weekend take of $1.2 million. In Oz, “Rango” has cumed $7.7 million, and in Blighty, $9.6 million.

“Rango” could face some tough competish on the family front during its next outing, as Universal readies to launch live action-toon hybrid “Hop” in 26 territories, including Germany, Italy and the U.K. Universal will bounce “Hop” into the rest of the world through the Easter holidays.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Ed Meza in Berlin, David Hayhurst in Paris and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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