‘Angels’ nabs heavenly opening

Sony sequel soars to top of weekend box office

Sony’s religious-themed thriller “Angels & Demons” debuted to a massive $104.3 million at the international box office, giving it the 10th best foreign opening of all time. But in the U.S., Paramount holdover “Star Trek” gave “Angels & Demons” a run for its money.

“Angels,” the sequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” opened to $48 million domestically from 3,527 theaters. “Star Trek” dropped a mere 46% in its second sesh to an estimated $43 million from 3,860 runs for a domestic cume of $147.6 million in its first 10 days.

The two films are dividing up the world: “Star Trek” is turning into a domestic powerhouse, while “Angels” is looking downright angelic everywhere else.

Sequels often open to substantially more than the originals, but that was not the case here. “Da Vinci” debuted on the same weekend in 2006 to $77.1 million domestically and $155 million overseas.

Sony and director Ron Howard realized “Angels” — returning Tom Hanks in the title role — probably wouldn’t match “Da Vinci’s” numbers. Dan Brown’s book of the same name was a global phenom, selling 80 million copies, while his “Angels” sold half that number.

The audience on the domestic side skewed slightly toward female filmgoers, with 50% of the aud over 30. With mostly actioners and family films opening in coming weeks, “Angels” should benefit from being the sole adult-skewing tentpole.

“The picture couldn’t have performed better. Domestically, it came in right where we expected. The worldwide component was like ‘Da Vinci,’ ” said Sony prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution Rory Bruer.

“Angels’ ” spectacular foreign opening isn’t surprising, considering that “Da Vinci” topped out at $540 million overseas, compared with $217.5 million domestically. Worldwide tally was $758.2 million.

“Angels,” produced by Imagine Entertainment, launched in 10,468 playdates in 96 markets.

The sequel scored the biggest international film opening since “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” debuted to $146 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

“Angels” saw its top gross in Germany, where it earned $12.7 million. That was followed by $11.4 million in Italy — the fifth biggest debut ever in that country. Filmed in Rome, the pic grossed $9.7 million in the U.K., $7 million in Spain and $6.3 million in France.

Opening per-location average overseas was just below $10,000, while the pic’s weekend take was 73% of “Da Vinci’s” first-weekend gross.

In some territories, “Angels” even out-performed the opening of “Da Vinci,” including Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Singapore, Venezuela, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Angels” has yet to open in several major territories, including China, India and Mexico.

Reviews in the U.S. for “Angels” were on the negative side, and word-of-mouth could have affected the film’s performance.

In contrast, “Star Trek,” one of the best reviewed movies of the year, seems to be sailing on positive word-of-mouth. J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” grossed $18.3 million on Saturday, compared to $17.8 million for “Angels.”

“A 56% uptick from Friday to Saturday tells you how strong word-of-mouth is. It’s becoming a movie for everyone,” said Paramount vice chair Rob Moore.

The 138 Imax theaters playing “Star Trek” saw sterling results in the film’s second weekend, grossing $5.1 million for a per-location average of $37,000. It was the best second weekend in the exhib’s history, beating the $4.7 million earned by “The Dark Knight” in its second weekend.

Overseas, where the franchise has never been hugely popular, “Star Trek” declined 42% in its second weekend to $21 million for a foreign cume of $70 million and a worldwide tally of $217.6 million.

Paramount insiders say the studio needs the film to reach $100 million overseas, which appears feasible.

Pic enjoyed a respectable hold in foreign markets, including the U.K., where it dipped 36% to $5.1 million, followed by a 40% dip in Germany to $2 million and a 42% decline in Australia to $2 million.

Placing No. 3 both domestically and internationally was 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which should jump the $300 million mark at the worldwide box office this week. Domestically, it declined 44% to $14.8 million for a cume of $151.1 million.

Overseas, “Wolverine” grossed $13.5 million at 7,640 in 103 markets, led by the U.K. with $1.8 million and Brazil with $1.5 million, as the latter territory benefited from Hugh Jackman’s promo visit. “Wolverine’s” foreign cume is $144.5 million overseas for a worldwide cume of $295.6 million.

The summer box office has gotten off to a strong start for Hollywood, with domestic box office revenues running 5% ahead of last year.

Even the specialty market is beginning to look more lively.

IFC Films’ French pic “Summer Hours,” toplining Juliette Binoche, posted a per-location average of $24,100 in its debut, grossing $48,200 from two locations.

Summit Entertainment’s “The Brothers Bloom,” from director Rian Johnson and starring Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz, grossed $82,000 from four theaters in L.A. and New York for a solid per- location average of $20,500.

Abramorama’s “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” continues to see steady business, grossing $70,703 from 27 theaters in its seventh week for a per- location average of $2,619 and cume of $368,000.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)