‘Troy’ opens at No.1, trumps ‘Van’ o’seas

Trojan War saga takes top spot in 47 markets

This article was updated on May 17, 2004.

Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and a cast of thousands have managed to do what Count Dracula, assorted vampires and werewolves failed to: mortally wound “Van Helsing.”

“Troy” vanquished the soph session of Universal’s action-adventure over the weekend, debuting at No. 1 in all 47 markets as it amassed an estimated $54.8 million from 6,722 playdates, outperforming its domestic preem.

“Van Helsing” plunged by an average of 52% in the major markets, devouring $24.5 million in 41 territories, propelling cume to $95 million, according to studio projections. However, given the decidedly mixed word of mouth for the vampire pic, it’s highly likely to have taken big hits even without the arrival of the Trojan War saga.

“Troy” outgrossed “Helsing’s” entries, often by significant margins, in all territories which reported, ringing up an estimated $8.1 million on 1,158 screens in Germany (20% bigger, marking the territory’s highest this year); $6.3 million in four days on 743 in France (4% up on “Van’s” five-day opener, and the best for a U.S. release this year); $6.2 million on 464 in Spain (5% to the good, and repping Warners’ third biggest debut, excluding sneaks); and Australia’s $4.6 million on 416 (41% ahead, excluding “Helsing’s” sneaks.)

Director Wolfgang Petersen’s epic captured a similarly impressive $3.3 million on 730 in Mexico (WB’s fourth biggest preem), $1.7 million in Greece (an industry record, sans sneaks, dethroning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and $1.7 million on 451 in Brazil (doubling “Gladiator”).

“Troy” looks certain to emulate those gangbuster numbers when it sets sail next weekend in the U.K., Japan, Italy, South Korea and Russia.

“Van Helsing” sucked up an estimated $23 million from 4,900 screens in 38 countries handled by UIP plus $1.5 million from Russia, the Philippines and Iceland, where it’s released by indies. Hugh Jackman/Kate Beckinsale starrer retained pole position in the U.K. on Saturday, ahead of “Troy’s” previews, and Universal was estimating a weekend take of $4.7 million for its pic, off 47%.

That would bring the 10-day tally to $17.9 million, outpacing “The Mummy” by 32% and “The Mummy Returns” by 16%. Helmer/writer Stephen Summers’ extravaganza tumbled by 55% to $2.2 million in France, scoring $7.6 million in 12 days, 9% below the first “Mummy” but 23% ahead of the sequel.

It minted roughly $3 million in Germany (down 56%), raking in $12.1 million in 11 days, and $1.9 million in Spain (plummeting 61% after its company-record debut), tallying $7.9 million, tracking well ahead of both “Mummy” capers.

Monster pic reigned again in Italy, mustering $1.7 million (dropping 55%), biting off $6.8 million in 10 days, and this week will overtake the $7.7 million lifetime total of “Mummy Returns.” “Helsing” declined by 57% in Oz, banking $6 million to date; shed 42% in Mexico, cuming $5.4 million; and lost 42% in Brazil, for $2.1 million.

Sommers’ pic looks capable of reaching $150 million in UIP’s markets; how close it will get to $200 million will depend on how strongly it performs in Japan and South Korea, where Universal laid off the rights to indies.

Landing in Japan, its final major market, “Big Fish” hooked a so-so $1.6 million, trailing the second weekend of local hit “Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World.” Tim Burton’s fantasy has grossed a reasonable $48.5 million.