'Fast Five,' 'Thor' battle for international auds

With one last clear week before Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” sailed in, Universal’s “Fast Five” and Paramount’s “Thor” claimed the top two spots internationally over the May 13-15 weekend.

U’s “Fast Five” won overseas bragging rights for its third straight week with $58.3 million, while “Thor” came in for Par with a weekend tally of $29.7 million. “Fast Five” has cumed $272.2 million; “Thor,” $227.4 million.

Both pics will have to share foreign wickets with Disney’s fourth “Pirates” installment as that film launches day and date in virtually every international market. “On Stranger Tides” should open boffo around the world and easily become 2011′s best-yet debut, a mark that may be broken as the rest of summer’s big pics roll out.

“Fast Five” has continued to hold steady in most of its top-performing markets, besting “Thor”; pics have gone head-to-head at one point in nearly all major territories.

Expanding its run to China, “Fast Five” debuted at No. 1 with $8.5 million from about 1,500 locations, making the film U’s second-best bow in that territory. Pic’s Chinese launch bested “Thor” by a whopping 70%.

Mexico was the top holdover market for “Fast Five,” contributing a chart-topping $5 million from just 503 locations, down only 30% from its opening weekend. Mexico has been a significant territory for the franchise, though “Fast Five,” with a Mexican cume of $17.5 million, is the series’ best performer there to date.

Brazil also held strong for “Fast Five” with $4 million, off 19%, while France added $4.8 million to the film’s take.

Meanwhile, “Thor” took approximately $4.1 million during its first full weekend in China. (“Thor” opened in China on May 15 with a local cume of $11.5 million.) China was “Thor’s” biggest B.O. contributor, as well as the film’s newest market.

Brazil came in for the second-biggest “Thor” haul over the weeked with $2.6 million on 345 screens, down 25% and a $15.3 million cume. Germany placed third with $2.4 million on 551, repping a decline of 17% and a $13.3 million cume.

Both “Fast Five” and “Thor” have yet to open in Japan, where Disney will launch “On Stranger Tides” day and date. But that’s good news for tentpole duo as “Thor” is skedded for a July 2 release and “Fast Five” won’t open in Japan until October.

Japan typically doesn’t see day-and-date releases of U.S. product, a fact attributed to the country’s booming local film industry crowding the market.

In fact, Fox Searchlight finally rolled out its boffo specialty performer “Black Swan” in Japan, where the film became the distrib’s biggest-ever opening there with $6.1 million. The film benefited from its well-timed Wednesday, May 11 bow — Japan’s weekly ladies’ day at the cinema when women can buy discounted tickets.

Searchlight’s strategic move — pics in Japan usually open over the weekend — gave “Black Swan” an additional boost from femme auds, a demographic that already makes up the majority of the country’s moviegoing population, especially with young women.

Thanks to the film’s repeat potential in Japan, “Black Swan” will land well beyond the $200 million mark, having nearly reached that already. Japanese B.O. pundits expect the film to finish near $25 million in that territory, the film’s last major overseas contributor.

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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