The widest day-and–date release in history, “The Day After Tomorrow” triumphed in 108 markets last week, failing to take line honors only in Greece and Serbia, of all places, where it was beaten by the third stanzas of “Troy.”
The key question is how will Fox’s environmental disaster epic stand up to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which launched over the weekend in 23 territories. Some exhibs were expecting Roland Emmerich’s opus to take a big hit in its soph sessions while others were more sanguine, noting word of mouth is positive. In the U.K., “Tomorrow” wasn’t spooked too badly by “Azkaban,” which bowed on the May 31 public holiday, clocking the biggest single day in Blighty’s history. In its first three days the Hogwarts kids conjured up a socko $20.5 million. Warners’ fantasy sold an estimated 510,000 tickets June 2 in France, eclipsing the first days of the previous two “Potters.”
“Day After Tomorrow” rang up $85 million on 9,276 screens in 110 markets May 28-30, the biggest weekend ever for a non-sequel. Through June 1 its cume had soared to $109 million, the 11th title to gross more than $100 million this year. The apocalyptic tale posted company records for Fox in 17 territories including Mexico (the industry’s second highest after “Spider-Man”), Spain, Russia, Taiwan (No. 2 of all time behind “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), Hong Kong, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey.
The debuts in Hong Kong and Thailand also ranked as the best for a Hollywood release. “Tomorrow'” registered Fox’s fourth biggest entry in the U.K. but only its sixth highest in Germany. It didn’t open as big as “Troy” in Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Argentina and Austria. “I expected a bit more from ‘DAT,’ I thought it’d have a broader appeal, but I can’t complain as it’s had a very good opening,” opined one Spanish booker. “Surprisingly, ‘Troy’ is working better here than in the U.S., probably because the story is closer to Spaniards.”
The ecological theme was resonating strongly in markets such as the U.K. and Germany, as one Teutonic programmer said, “It is Hollywood spectacle, but viewers recognize there’s also an important message in the film which definitely makes it more interesting.”
“Troy” withstood Fox’s tidal wave remarkably well, minting an estimated $40.3 million on 9,752 screens in 58 countries. Its cume surged to $230.4 million and with that kind of momentum is a sure bet to hit $300 million. Brad Pitt/Eric Bana starrer held especially stoutly in the U.K., South Korea and Japan (where “Day” dawns June 5), but Italo exhibs were disappointed with its 42% descent. “I thought ‘Troy’ would have grabbed more spectators than it has: this has been an ugly surprise,” said one Rome exec, adding that Fox’s epic didn’t open as potently as he expected. Receipts in the U.K. saw a 27% bounce, Spain was up 17% but France improved by just 6% and there were marginal declines in Italy and Germany.
“Shrek 2” romped through its second sojourns in five Southeast Asian markets despite “Tomorrow’s” invasion. In all, it’s outperforming the original, which delivered solid numbers but not as stellar as in Europe, Oz and Latin America. The sequel is 10% ahead of the predecessor in Hong Kong, 70% up in Singapore and 190% better in the Philippines.
“Van Helsing” is running out of gas after pulling in $132.5 million in 42 territories. With only Japan and South Korea on the horizon the vampire hunter saga looks headed for $180 million max.
The Hollywood blockbusters haven’t totally decimated the competition. “The Ladykillers” had a pleasing second weekend in Spain, considering the panning it got at the Cannes fest and the difficulties of imparting the nuances of the dialog in dubbed versions.
“Kill Bill Vol. 2” and Emir Kusturica’s “Life is a Miracle” continued to earn tidy sums in France, and “Bill’s” cume climbed to $69.4 million, with Spain the only remaining major market.
Helmer Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” dropped by just 10% in Italy, an appealing alternative to the popcorn fare. In Germany, local comedy “Der Wixxer” skidded by 40% but exhibs were happy with its figures.
Ed Meza in Berlin, Sheri Jennings in Rome, Archie Thomas in London, Norma Nebot in Madrid and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.