Pics opens at No. 1 in France, Belgium, U.K.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” caught a gusty tailwind in debut territories France, Belgium and the U.K., all of which saw the film launch Wednesday in the No. 1 position.

Sony handles distribution for “Tintin” in all of Europe except Blighty, where Paramount released the pic to $3.5 million including previews.

In France, “Tintin” scored $4.7 million including previews. Sony said it expects the film to gross around $18.5 million locally through Sunday; that would be the biggest Gaul opening for a pic after “Avatar.”

The 3D motion-capture film’s projected opening in France would outpace that of “Toy Story 3″ by 75%, according to Sony.

In the character’s homeland of Belgium, meanwhile, “Tintin” opened with $239,012 on 169 screens — in line to earn $1.8 million locally in its debut weekend. “Avatar” tallied $1.6 million in Belgium, with a best-ever cume there of $15.8 million.

Propelled by the property’s 83 year history in Belgium and France, the pic is further boosted in Gaul and the U.K. by school holidays this week; students in Belgium go on vacation next week.

“Tintin” rolls out this weekend in 18 European markets before expanding next week to an additional 24 territories. Pic launches in the U.S. via Par on Dec. 21.

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