Aggressive day-date release puts pic on top internationally

Sony’s “Men in Black 3,” which orbited at $135.3 million in its opening weekend (May 25-27), managed to unseat previous four-weekend champ “The Avengers,” which posted another $24.9 million during the three-day frame, for an overseas cume of $778.4 million through May 27.

“Black 3″ benefited from a hugely aggressive international day-and-date release in 106 countries, including China, where the pic grossed $21.7 million (nearly 88% of that from 3D) — the country’s seventh-highest opening weekend for a Hollywood pic.

The Sony film struggled somewhat in the States, failing to capitalize on enthusiasm suggested by pre-release tracking. Overseas, however, the threequel represents the latest recent example in a string of pics that have far overperformed internationally vs. domestic. Films like “John Carter” and “Battleship” rated as domestic flops, but were well-received outside the U.S.

By comparison, “Avengers” has tallied roughly 60% of its $1.3 billion global cume from overseas wickets, marking a more typical overseas/domestic box office split. But the phenomenal Stateside returns for “Avengers” have been problematic for rivals, such as “Men in Black.”

The Sony pic is by no means a financial disaster, but “Black 3″ certainly will have to work hard to avoid finishing in the red.

Besides China, the sequel also did well in Russia, accounting for $16.7 million, followed by South Korea and Japan, which contributed $9.2 million and $8.8 million, respectively. The pic was less successful in northern Europe, where warm weather invited most moviegoers outdoors.

Sony has rights for “Black 3″ in virtually all overseas territories, except for in Japan, where the pic is distributed by Toho-Towa.

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