‘Matrix’ firepower overwhelms o’seas

Sequel's bow places at, near top of film lists worldwide

For Roadshow and Warners, the studios behind “The Matrix” franchise, it looks as if the wait has been worth it. Installment two, “The Matrix Reloaded,” preemed in 13 countries over the weekend, day and date with the U.S., for a $31.9 million haul.

Following Thursday night’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France, the CGI-laden chopsocky actioner unspooled on 2,629 screens in France, Australia and a clutch of smaller territories. The embargo strategy that saw the pic held until after its red-carpet treatment at Cannes meant that in seven of the 13 markets, the weekend was shorter than usual.

In France, for example, 1.7 million admissions translated into $12 million from 894 screens for three days — vs. the normal five-day gross. Despite the contracted time frame, “The Matrix Reloaded” recorded the industry’s sixth biggest opening weekend for a studio pic. It was 74% better than the original “Matrix” over five days, 7% better than “Spider-Man” over the same period and 47% better than “X2” (five days).

In Australia, the three-day gross for “The Matrix Reloaded” was an estimated $7.3 million — the third biggest premiere weekend there behind the four-day premiere weekends of “Lord of the Rings,” which opened on the bountiful Boxing Day weekend, and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” which opened the same weekend last year. The Oz result is 164% higher than the original “Matrix,” 6% higher than “Spider-Man” and 85.9% better than “X2” a fortnight earlier.

Oz B.O. double

Overall B.O. Down Under is likely double the previous flat weekend, with counter-programmed pics faring well. BVI pickup from New Zealand “Whale Rider” dropped just 10% in week two to take another $600,000, and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” fell 21% for $500,000.

Meanwhile, in Holland “The Matrix Reloaded” grossed an $1.8 million from 140 screens, the industry’s third biggest opening weekend despite the three-day duration, not the usual four. The result is 176% up on the original “Matrix,” 35% ahead of “Spidey’s” opening preem and 11% ahead of the result for “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings,” which included sneaks.

In Taiwan, auds ignored the now-dissipating threat of contracting the SARS virus to the tune of about $1.8 million. The result is ahead of (the SARS-affected) preem for “X2” by $154.5%.

In Thailand, “Reloaded” recorded the biggest U.S. opening ever — 1.7 million from 280 screens.

Turkey’s biggest bow

Turkey recorded the biggest opening ever — estimated $1.7 million from 264 screens.

Belgium’s three-day preem (vs. the normal five days) took $1.3 from 99 screens, making it the fifth biggest opening weekend ever.

Elsewhere, Columbia TriStar’s “Anger Management” is holding strongly, the weekend haul from 1,275 screens was $2.9 million, adding up to $14.8 through international. The Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler laffer held top spot in Germany with about $2 million from 863 screens; cume is $4.9 million, down 8% from the opening weekend. In Austria it also held, taking about $260,000 from 75; cume is $680,000, down 6% from opening weekend.

And Rowan Atkinson comedy “Johnny English,” with just two territories to open, passed $100 million Friday. Fox’s “X2” took $18 million in week three, off 40% for a $150 million international cume.

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