Universal and Paramount duke it out at box office

Hollywood tentpoles dominated the April 29-May 1 weekend, with Paramount’s “Thor” easily nabbing the weekend crown, hammering $89.2 million from 54 territories.

Its two-week total — “Thor” bowed in Australia last weekend — is just shy of $100 million.

Universal’s “Fast Five,” which already has cumed $82 million in two weeks, sped to a solid soph-sesh take of $46.2 million from 14 markets.

The blockbuster duo went head-to-head in several major debut markets, including Germany, Russia and Spain, testing audience appetites for multiple tentpoles entering the market simultaneously.

And the gambit paid off, mostly for U, with “Fast Five” scoring the No. 1 spot in all 10 debut territories, including the three markets where “Fast Five” and “Thor” bowed together. Still, “Thor joined “Fast Five” in taking the top two spots in most markets. In the U.K., “Thor” dominated without competition from “Fast Five,” debuting with $9 million on 500 screens.

In Spain, the two pics helped put local box office totals 33% ahead of the previous frame, with “Fast Five” collecting $6.3 million vs. $5 million for “Thor.”

Meanwhile, Russian auds shelled out a record-setting $11.5 million for “Fast Five,” making it Universal’s biggest opening ever in Russia and the best four-day bow there this year. Pic ranked 68% ahead of “Thor,” which grossed $6 million.

The “Fast Five”-“Thor” battle in Russia marks a significant win for the U pic, especially considering “Fast Five” isn’t out in 3D, while “Thor” failed to benefit much from the format’s ticket upcharge despite Russia’s love of all things stereoscopic.

Germany also saw a significant spread between the two openers, with “Fast Five” ($10.2 million) outpacing “Thor” ($5.9 million) by a commanding 42%.

“Thor” has been released in nearly every major market, including China, with its Japan release set for July 2. “Fast Five,” however, still has 49 markets yet to come, most of which will bow this weekend, including France, Italy, Brazil and Mexico.

Studios are having to jockey release dates this summer, dealing with a mass influx of high-profile product bowing over the next few months.

Both “Thor” and “Fast Five” saw widespread openings a week before their domestic launches. Paramount wanted to add a week of playtime for “Thor” before Disney unspools “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” worldwide May 20. “Fast Five,” with the exception of a few territories, bowed over several weeks to avoid direct competition with “Thor.”

Fox’s “Rio” also saw several weekends of uninhibited playtime in offshore markets, thanks mainly to staggered releases with Universal’s similarly family-targeted “Hop.” “Rio” added $31.5 million after four weeks of release, lifting its offshore cume to a stellar $264 million.

Some of “Rio’s” holdover markets, including France and Mexico improved on previous frames, with local weekend takes of $4.6 million and $3.2 million, respectively.

In Mexico, “Rio’s” local cume is $23.4 million, which makes it the territory’s highest-grossing film so far this year. The pic likely saw a better-than-usual hold because of Mexico’s Children’s Day celebration on April 30. The kid-friendly Mexican blowout also benefited “Hop,” which grossed $1.3 million over the weekend, bringing the film’s local cume to $6.9 million.

“Hop” has grossed $58.1 million from 48 international territories to date. Both “Hop” and “Rio” benefited from Easter and tykes on school vacation.

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

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