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‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Leads Foreign Box Office, ‘Apes’ Still Swinging

Guardians of the Galaxy” dominated the international box office this weekend, powered by the global strength of the Marvel brand.

The space adventure blasted off with $66.4 million in 43 territories, including Russia, where the film bowed to $13 million, the United Kingdom with a $10.8 million debut and Mexico, where the picture premiered to $6.5 million.

“Overseas, this film is playing more like a sequel than an original,” said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of theatrical distribution.

He argued that the picture is performing in line with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Thor: The Dark World,” and outpacing the first films in those series.

“Guardians'” territory count represents 50% of the international footprint and excludes a number of major markets, including Australia, where it opens next weekend, France, where it bows in two weeks, and Japan, where it will be unveiled on Sept. 13.  The film has also been accepted into China, though it has yet to receive a release date. It will likely debut there in September.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” continued to hold strong in its fourth week of release, generating $47.5 million from 11,714 screens in 70 markets. The sequel has surpassed its predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” domestically and with $449.3 million worldwide is in striking distance of that film’s $481.8 million global haul.

The simian sequel opened in France last weekend with $14.1 million and Belgium with $1.5 million, with openings in China, Japan, and Germany still on tap.

China’s “The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom” showed the strength of the Asian country’s local productions, debuting to an estimated $40 million. The 3D fantasy was originally slated to open in April, but was pushed back several months. The film adapts a beloved 1950s novel by Liang Yusheng.

South Korea’s “Roaring Currents” scored fourth place on the overseas chart with a $30 million weekend. The picture documents a historic naval victory over Japan.

In fifth place, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” tried to cushion its disappointing domestic performance by attracting foreign crowds. The animated sequel racked up $20 million from 6,755 screens in 36 markets. Its worldwide haul now stands at $465.3 million, trailing the first film’s nearly $500 million cumulative total. China, with its burgeoning population of moviegoers, beckons later this month.

A number of U.S. films passed significant milestones at the foreign box office this weekend. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” became the first film this year to cross $1 billion thanks in large part to its record-breaking run in China, “22 Jump Street” hit $100 million overseas, and “Godzilla” roared its way past $300 million in foreign receipts.

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