“The Matrix Reloaded” may have lost its grip on the domestic box office, but in international territories the Wachowski brothers’ philosophical actioner is still king.
The second installment of Warner Roadshow’s FX-laden trilogy added 49 territories last week. It became the first movie to earn more than $100 million in a single weekend, minting $176 million from 62 territories after two weeks in release. It is also the 10th pic to cross the magic $100 million threshold worldwide this year, following recent releases “X2: X-Men United” and UIP’s “Johnny English.”
“Reloaded” posted one of its best major-territory openings in Spain with $6.455 million the first weekend and $7 million including previews to register the second-best first weekend ever behind “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and the No. 2 bow behind “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”
“Exhibbers have battled like mad to get a copy of the only big pic this May in Spain,” said one booker, who dubbed other pics’ results “ridiculous.”
“X2” fell 56% to $455,000 over its fourth weekend to a 24-day cume of $9.8 million. “X2” has taken $172 million internationally.
The best perf in Spain came from German foreign-lingo Oscar winner “Nowhere in Africa,” the only top-10 holdover to climb, in this case 5% in its second weekend, for a breakout, first-10-day $516,903 from 87.
In Blighty brisk business bumped the B.O. 144% from the previous weekend and 57% above the same weekend last year — mostly due to “Reloaded,” with some impact from the annual bank holiday weekend.
“Reloaded” took $19.8 million from 481 screens, including previews of $5.3 million. The three-day total of $14.5 million is the best ever for a non-PG release, but exhibs are keeping their fingers crossed that the pic doesn’t fall more than 45% in its second frame. They were understandably elated with the opening-weekend numbers, but conceded it was in line with expectations following the glitzy London preem and massive publicity drive. The “Matrix” sequel has been eagerly awaited by its diehard fans and seemed to be undiminished by mixed reviews.
The only other opener in the top 10 was “The Hot Chick.” Savaged by the critics, the Rob Schneider laffer limped into the seventh spot with a cold per-screen average of $1,267.
In Germany, “Reloaded” exploded with the best first-day result of 2003. Warners and Roadshow scored a double whammy, with the original “Matrix” back on the charts (in third with $769,267 from 302 screens), thanks to nationwide double features. “Reloaded” drew more than a million viewers for opening weekend — a feat not seen since “The Two Towers” in December.
“It’s incredible,” gushed one exec. “The film really brought everyone into the cinema — it’s the ultimate must-see film. People couldn’t wait.”
But the exhib said the film has obviously disappointed many fans of the first “Matrix” and, although its blockbuster status remains unquestionable, he predicted viewer numbers would drop considerably in coming weeks.
“A lot of viewers were left confused by the film, and it won’t develop the mass appeal enjoyed by other films, like ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ ”
“For people not into ‘Reloaded,’ ‘Anger Management’ was the ticket,” he said.
The only other entry that dared to open was UIP’s “The Quiet American” from helmer Phillip Noyce. Pic earned $226,337 from 62 screens, enjoying a solid per-screen average of $3,651. Exhib said pic, which filled arthouse and non-mainstream theaters, benefited from strong critical acclaim. “The film is especially relevant today,” he added.
In Italy, “Reloaded” minted $6.3 million, accounting for 75% of the entire B.O. takings, which were up 65% from the previous weekend. Other openers that came in below the radar were Fox’s “The Good Thief” and Sony’s “Swept Away.”
“Reloaded’s” second weekend in France and Australia indicate how the other territories will play this weekend. Down Under, the total B.O. fell 35% from last week’s bumper turn. New entrants were “Phone Booth” and “The Life of David Gale”: The former performed much better than the latter, while “Reloaded” dropped 46% for 10-day takings of $13.3 million.
In France, ticket sales slid 20% despite a flood of post-Cannes arthouse entries. Unlike Britain, there was no holiday Monday, but the French are looking forward to a long weekend with a holiday Thursday and most taking Friday off to extend the break.
Francois Ozon’s Cannes competitor “Swimming Pool” pushed out the fest opener, “Fanfan La Tulipe,” taking home $1.75 million in its debut week in France. Given its mixed reviews, the low-key film had a nice opening on a conservative 360 screens.
Lars von Trier’s Nicole Kidman starrer “Dogville” preemed at No. 6 on a small 196 screens.
In Japan, opening weekend for Eminem’s “8 Mile” out-danced “Chicago,” which was atop the list for five weeks. The Japanese result definitely will push “8 Mile’s” international cume past the domestic $116.5 million tally. Quite an accomplishment, given Eminem is famous only in limited international territories where urban pics rarely play well. “8 Mile” took $2.3 million in Japan for an international cume of $110 million.
(John Hopewell in Madrid, Archie Thomas in London, Ed Meza in Berlin, Sheri Jennings in Italy and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.)