‘Eclipse’ has fangs in int’l box office

Overseas bows smashes b.o. records

Overseas bows of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” on Wednesday smashed a clutch of box office records, shading “New Moon” in some territories, and proving that auds do have time for the FIFA World Cup tournament and vampires.

The third offering in the “Twilight” franchise launched with an estimated $16.2 million for midnight or first-day Wednesday screenings in 21 markets.

International accounted for more than half of “New Moon’s” worldwide trawl — an achievement “Eclipse” looks set to match.

The only question is whether occasional clashes with key World Cup soccer games could blunt “Eclipse’s” early B.O. fangs.

“Eclipse” bit off $2 million at 1,014 locations in Spain via distrib Aurum, according to Rentrak, edging out “New Moon,” which took $1.7 million.

In soccer-mad Brazil, local distrib Paris opened “Eclipse” on 500 screens, grossing $2.5 million — up on “New Moon’s” $2 million. Pre-sales of 320,000 tickets broke local records.

“Eclipse” bowed at 11 p.m. Wednesday in Argentina on 111 screens, pulling in $67,812, according to preliminary figures from B.O. tracker Ultracine.

Its B.O. for the one showing ranked second behind “Toy Story 3,” which punched an all-day gross of $273,778 on the same day.

In the Netherlands, “Eclipse” opened with midnight screenings on 53 screens for a take of $272,784, expanding to 103 screens on Wednesday for a B.O. total of $591,930 — significantly up on “New Moon,” which opened with $189,311 on 80 prints.

Little wonder Dutch distributor Independent Films said it was “very satisfied with these great results.”

In Belgium, pic took $1,094,790 on 87 prints, breaking the local opening day record and besting “New Moon,” which took in $584,960 on its first day.

Distrib Belga Films ran previous pics and the new film either side of midnight on Tuesday-Wednesday just hours after thesps Ashley Greene and Xavier Samuel walked the red carpet at the local preem in Antwerp.

In Italy, “Eclipse” notched up an estimated $3.2 million from 638 playdates, the third best opening of all time, and well up on “New Moon’s” $2.4 million.

In Russia and the C.I.S. states, the first day take totaled $3.9 million, more than double “New Moon’s” $1.8 million.

“Eclipse” dominated the Scandinavian marketplace, notching up just over $1 million in Sweden, $855,810 in Norway, $757,600 in Denmark and $341,100 in Finland.

The decision whether to open the vampire romance as counterprogramming during the World Cup, which ends July 11, is still playing out.

It seems to have paid off in Brazil. For Spain, the jury is still out.

Saturday’s crunch Spain-Paraguay quarterfinal game could weaken “Eclipse’s” legs.

“Owing to World Cup fever and Spaniards’ summer diaspora to the beaches, ‘Eclipse’ will be hard put to get past ‘New Moon’s’ first five-day $12 million,” predicted Pau Brunet, editor of Boxoffice.es.

“Eclipse” opens Wednesday in France, where it is unlikely to be hit by World Cup madness since France has been knocked out of the competish.

SND marketing and promotion director Olivier Lebraud said “Eclipse” will bow on a scale similar to “New Moon” — 755 prints.

“We have high expectations for ‘Eclipse.’ It’s our biggest release this year,” said Lebraud.

“New Moon” grossed $31.52 million in France, taking the sixth slot at the 2009′ Gallic B.O.

With England out of the tourney, “Eclipse” opens on 523 cinemas in the U.K. on July 9. It’s a bigger bow than “New Moon,” which played at 497 locations for an opening weekend of $17.5 million. “New Moon” grossed $43.4 million in Blighty.

In Germany, where the national soccer team went into the World Cup tipped as one of the favorites, local distrib Concorde Film opted to release “Eclipse” on July 15 — four days after the Cup ends.

(Ian Mundell in Brussels, Charles Newbery in Buenos Aires, Elsa Keslassy in Paris and Diana Lodderhose in London contributed to this report.)