Pic sets record for U.S. comedy

Warner Bros.’ R-rated laffer “The Hangover Part II” had worldwide audiences splitting their sides over the May 25-30 time frame, opening to more than $195 million globally, making it the highest debut ever for a comedy.

The pic collected $60 million from outside the U.S., mostly from adults and older teens, leaving families and tykes to Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which debuted in fewer territories (11 vs. 40 for “Hangover II”) with an animated $55.5 million. “Panda 2″ ranked tops in nine markets, led by China.

Though both films debuted exceptionally well overseas, it was Disney’s tentpole holdover “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” that won the weekend, posting a soph sesh take of $137.1 million through May 27.

The fourth “Pirates” installment crossed the $600 million global benchmark (at $649.1 million) in just 12 days, matching the previous industry record set by its predecessor, “At World’s End,” in 2007. “Stranger Tides” is the year’s highest-grossing film worldwide so far and Disney’s all-time sixth-best overseas grosser, with $485.1 million internationally.

“Stranger Tides” set opening records in Russia and China, though “Panda 2″ managed to do boffo biz in both territories during opening weekend.

In China, “Panda 2″ scored the market’s biggest opening day ever, trumping the short-lived record set by “Stranger Tides,” with a two-day debut of $19 million. (“Panda 2″ opened Saturday in China.) Russian auds also embraced the toon — animated pics usually do well in that market — bowing to $15 million to become the market’s third-highest toon opening behind “Shrek Forever After” and “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”

“Panda 2″ also played boffo in South Korea, with $13 million, becoming the market’s biggest 2011 opening to date and outpacing the original “Panda” by 60%.

While “Panda 2″ opened almost on par at foreign wickets with “Hangover II” (and in 29 fewer markets), the pair avoided each other in most debut territories. “Hangover II” opened primarily throughout Europe, in addition to a few Latin American countries, while “Panda 2″ concentrated on Asia.

American comedies traditionally don’t travel well overseas, but based on the success of the original “Hangover” — as well as its popularity Stateside — “Hangover II” managed to buck the trend, particularly in France, where the laffer scored $5.8 million, 154% higher than its predecessor. But that wasn’t enough to push it past “Stranger Tides,” which dipped 52% in its second week, for a local cume of $21.1 million.

“Hangover II” saw its best returns from the U.K. and Australia, hardly a surprise, since English-speaking international territories are most likely to embrace U.S. comedies.

In Blighty, the film took in $16.7 million, making it the pic’s top debut market, and ranking as the best foreign opening ever for an American comedy. And in Oz, “Hangover II” scored $11.9 million to become the territory’s biggest bow for an MA-rated film (Oz’s R equivalent; no one under 15 permitted). Pic now ranks as the year’s highest opening so far in both territories.

Neither new entry bowed in Spain, which left “Stranger Tides” to rule the roost. Pic has cumed in Spain $15.3 million, down 51% from its opening weekend.

The “Pirates” pic’s local soph drop for “Stranger Tides” — while not necessarily desirable, but also not detrimental — could be attributed to Spain’s free-to-air televised soccer match between Barcelona and Manchester United, which hogged 67% of the local market share on Saturday. Match attracted 9.9 million pairs of eyeballs, ripping a hole in the territory’s overall weekend box office.

Bookers see fewer distraction in the Spanish market next week. That’s good news for 20th Century Fox as it plans to unspool “X-Men: First Class” in the market next week, among its blitz of 55 day-and-date overseas territories for the pic.

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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