Call it a little bit of blue magic. In a surprising weekend (Aug. 12-14), Sony’s live action-toon hybrid “The Smurfs” collected an outstanding $60.5 million at the overseas box office to unseat reigning champ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”
In its fifth frame, “Potter” earned $29.3 million for an international cume of $858.2 million. “Smurfs” has cumed $142.8 million overseas. Also outperforming “Potter,” 20th Century Fox’s holdover “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” posted $40.8 million, thanks to an expansion into territories like France, Germany and the U.K. “Apes” has tallied a total $75.5 million after two weeks in 40 markets.
“Smurfs,” which is Sony’s best summer performer internationally, helped the studio cross the $1 billion mark in overseas grosses. Last year, Sony didn’t reach that milestone until Oct. 1.
The weekend take for “Smurfs” was boosted by solid 3D perfs in most major markets, including China, France, Germany and Russia. The hybrid pic launched exclusively in 3D in China, taking in $13.4 million, beating fellow 3D pic “Harry Potter,” which pulled in $8.1 million in its second semester there.
Not surprisingly, “Smurfs” earned 85% of its $4.4 million debut from 3D in Russia — a boon market for 3D family films. However, the format accounted for 73% of the film’s total screen count. Mexico, which only saw $36% from 3D “Smurfs,” launched the pic mostly in 2D (70%); the same was true in Spain, though not by nearly as much — 2D occupied 59% of the pic’s total screens in that territory, with 38.5% in 3D.
In two weeks, “The Smurf’s” top European markets, Germany and France, have contributed cumes of $14.2 million and $12.1 million, respectively. Both territories boast high 3D percentages for “Smurfs”: Germany has 77% from 3D, while the format’s share in Gaul is at 65.6%.
Brazil stands as the best overseas market for “Smurfs,” with a local cume of $15.5 million. The film’s 3D version hasn’t done as well in that market as in other territories, totaling 53.7% from the format, with 2D screens repping 58% of the total there.
Meanwhile, Fox’s 2D franchise reboot “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” earned top coin in Blighty with almost $10 million, followed by Gaul, which contributed $8.7 million. “Apes” did better than “X-Men: First Class” — Fox’s earlier summer franchise rebirth — in both territories. “X-Men” opened to just shy of $9 million in the U.K., while French auds shelled out $7.1 million for “First Class.” “Apes” debuted to $4.7 million in Germany, is third-best market.
Fox plans to expand “Apes” into nine markets the weekend of Aug. 18, including Argentina and South Korea, followed the next weekend by Brazil, then Mexico on Sept. 2 and Japan on Oct. 8.
Warner Bros. continues to have success with “Harry Potter” in holdover frames. The film dropped just 36% in Germany, with a weekend take of $2.9 million, and 40% in the U.K., grossing $2.8 million. At $5.2 million, Japanese auds boosted the film 9% over its previous frame.
Healthy holds across the board helped “Potter” stay on top internationally for four straight weeks, but an overall 53% overseas weekend drop allowed “Smurfs” and “Apes” to gain ground.
“Cowboys & Aliens,” which Paramount Intl. is distribbing overseas (Universal has domestic rights), wasn’t able to provide much competition in its overseas debut, grossing a so-so $7.1 million from 14 territories, including Russia ($2.8 million) and South Korea ($1.1 million). Pic expands to eight additional markets next weekend.
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.