Marvel-ous ‘X2’ opening

Pic posts second-highest o'seas bow ever

Exhibs overseas had two reasons to cheer last weekend: heroic preems by “X2: X-Men United” and the fact that some holdovers withstood the mutant invasion remarkably well.

In the widest-ever day-and-date release, Fox’s sci-fier amassed $69.27 million from 7,600 prints in 93 territories, including previews in Spain, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Belgium. That ranks as the second-highest opening weekend of all time overseas, beating “Star Wars: Episode 11 — Attack of the Clones,” which minted $69.1 million from 5,854 screens in 72 markets in May 2002.

It trails “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” which generated $99.4 million in its first five days in 27 territories last December; that pic had the advantage of holiday playing time.

Outdistancing original

The “X-Men” sequel opened on average 50%-60% bigger than the original and is on course to substantially outperform “X-Men’s” $137 million foreign total, according to Fox Intl. theatrical prez Scott Neeson. “We’re getting terrific responses in all markets and we expect strong holds,” he added.

Helmer Bryan Singer’s comic-book-inspired caper rang up $11.1 million on 447 locations in the U.K., $7.5 million on 701 in France, $6.7 million on 897 in Germany, $4.9 million on 378 in Spain (Fox’s second-biggest bow, doubling “X-Men”) and $4.4 million on 358 in Australia. The Oz entry was around 30% bigger than one exhib anticipated, prompting him to remark it’s “outstanding, way beyond expectations.”

Sci-fier nabbed $5.55 million on 755 in Mexico and $2.35 million on 403 in Brazil, in both, a Fox record and the industry’s second-best debut, behind “Spider-Man.”

Similarly impressive were South Korea’s $2.5 million on 177 (the distrib’s third biggest), Switzerland’s $783,000 on 94, Sweden’s $770,000 on 75, Belgium’s $687,000 on 85 and Venezuela’s $370,000 on 65 (an industry high).

Not quite as stellar were Japan’s $3.1 million on 439 (14% up on “X-Men,” on par with “Die Another Day”) and Italy’s $2.75 million on 300 in a country which historically isn’t hot for sci-fiers.

Despite the SARS crisis in Southeast Asia, the Hugh Jackman/Halle Berry/Patrick Stewart starrer captured a socko $1.13 million on 250 in Thailand (the distrib’s second highest), $1.1 million on 50 in Singapore (a Fox best), $792,000 on 55 in Hong Kong and $585,000 on 87 in Malaysia (handicapped by an age 18 rating).

Surviving SARS

Bob Vallone of Hong Kong’s UA Cinemas hailed the opening as “an accomplishment considering SARS is still having an impact, coupled with the fact that we had torrential rains on Saturday and Sunday, which kept people indoors.”

Vallone said his circuit’s business jumped by 30% over the prior weekend and it was a moderate 25% lower than the same frame last year when Spidey launched. “It looks like we will be back to normal by the time ‘Matrix Reloaded’ opens May 22,” he added.

The health scare did impact “X2” in Taiwan, resulting in a relatively soft $660,000 on 130.

The frame’s No. 2 title, “Johnny English” drummed up a solid $8 million from 3,000 playdates in 37 countries, hoisting cume to an estimated $90 million after 25 days of international release. Its stand-out scores include the U.K.’s $24.8 million (equaling the lifetime gross of Rowan Atkinson’s previous hit “Bean”), Germany’s $17.3 million (5% bigger than the final tally of “Jurassic Park: The Lost World”), Australia’s $6.6 million and Spain’s $5.7 million.

“Lose” still a winner

“How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days” romanced roughly $5.4 million from holdovers in 11 markets, upping cume to $23.7 million just three weeks into its rollout. Par/UIP’s romantic comedy has fetched a dandy $7.3 million in Blighty (falling just 22%), $5.7 million in Germany (slipping a mere 6%) and $1.1 million in Austria (off 17%). Through its second weekends, Matthew McConaughey/Kate Hudson starrer has collected a hearty $3.9 million in Oz, $1.7 million in Mexico (abating by 32%) and a so-so $1.6 million in Italy.

In Brazil, Hector Babenco’s prison drama “Carandiru” actually improved by 3% in its fourth stanza, propelling the market total to a terrif $6.2 million.

Fox’s mutants did flatten “Anger Management” in its second weekend in Southeast Asia, and although the Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson starrer plunged by 60% in its third course Down Under, it’s racked up an impressive $5.4 million there.