UPDATED FIGURES, 4:15 PM PT Monday: There’s a lot this weekend that’s reminiscent of last year’s comparable frame, which again has a Hunger Games movie atop the heap, and a space sci-fi epic coming in at No. 2 across the globe. And yet, there are shifts to watch. The Martian seemed to have a strong China debut all but assured this weekend given the performance of recent comps, its own stellar run elsewhere and a plotline that puts the Chinese in nice light. Debuting in the Middle Kingdom this past Wednesday, it grossed a fantastic $50M to best the starts of films like Gravity and Interstellar. As Mockingjay ($21.8M) and Spectre ($83.4M) have all but legged out, a question now might become how The Martian stretches over the next short while before the December China blackout hits.
With this film, budgeted around $110M and now Ridley Scott’s biggest domestic, international and global success, the China returns are somewhat icing. But bigger picture, Hollywood movies have recently felt the impact of a squeezed release schedule ahead of the blackout period that will see them sidelined entirely beginning December 7, and they’ve also had to do battle with local pics for dominance there. I’m constantly cautioned that the market is undergoing a change that’s causing fear in Hollywood. And, as one exec recently put it, films are “playing off” more quickly than in the past.
Spectre is a recent example of a film that got a pretty wide China berth at open. With a $48M debut off of an aggressively smart marketing campaign, it set a record for the Bond franchise. Despite a current tally of $83.4M in the Middle Kingdom, it fell off more quickly than might have been expected, and may not reach the $100M some had been predicting. That’s not going to majorly hurt it in the final tally – Bond is always biggest elsewhere – but it saw almost immediate competition from not only Mockingjay 2 but local pic Our Times which ate into grosses. The Martian has had little competition so far. The second frame of Our Times clocked $13M and new releases came in low. The final two releases coming from the States are The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water on Wednesday and, in an experiment that sees a major movie release three weeks ahead of the U.S., Point Break on December 3. With more local titles lined up, it will be interesting to see just how the final market share spreads out between China and Hollywood when we hit the end of the year. Hint: China will be much higher…
That’s one aspect of the story this weekend. Mockingjay, Spectre, Spanish Affairs 2 and more make up the whole, along with others including the UK launch of Carol, below. (All figures throughout adjusted by Kinsey Lowe to reflect latest distributor reports.)
UPDATE, WRITETHRU 12:45 PM PT Sunday: In similar fashion to 2014’s comparable frame, Katniss Everdeen continued to dominate offshore markets in her 2nd outing. This time, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 feathered the nest with $63.2M in 92 total markets. That’s down about 57% from the debut last week on Lionsgate’s final installment of the YA saga, and $5M off MJ1‘s sophomore session last year. Also like 2014, a sci-fi epic falls in line at No. 2 internationally. The Martian had a great China landing, cultivating an out-of-this-world $50M start. The five-day debut topped Gravity‘s 2013 six-day Middle Kingdom launch by 39% and Interstellar‘s five-day 2014 blast off by 58%. Growth in the market, coupled with this film’s strong walk-up to China — and story elements that give the Middle Kingdom a heroic sheen — are factors here on what’s become director Ridley Scott’s biggest movie ever at the domestic, international and global box office. A strategic marketing campaign helped bring in the $544M global to date.
Elsewhere, the weekend’s major new entry was of a different species entirely. Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur put down 58% of its international footprint in 39 territories for $29.8M. The story of Arlo and Spot is going out in a staggered release pattern, notably setting the table in some significant markets this frame ahead of the upcoming holidays.
In its 5th international frame, Spectre had license to a further $30.67 to bring the international tally to $574.7 and the global total to $750.8M.
Breakdowns on those and other films follow with more to come.
The latest in the Disney/Pixar canon began rollout in 39 territories this frame including eight significant markets. Thanksgiving doesn’t apply internationally so getting it out this weekend offshore was designed to set it up to run throughout the December holidays (and act as counterprogramming to another Disney movie that’s coming down the pike). With a $29.8M start, and $84.27M globally, TGD notably had strong openings in the UK ($4.3M), Mexico ($3.6M), France ($3.2M), Argentina ($2.2M), and Russia ($2.1M). Of those, TGD loped in at No. 1 in Mexico, Argentina and Russia, knocking Mockingjay from its perch. Among the big markets that have not bowed are Australia (12/26), Korea and Brazil (1/7), and Japan (3/12). A China release is still to be determined.
The Good Dinosaur is the first Pixar movie to bow in November in several years but staked out a period in which Disney has typically excelled (Frozen, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It-Ralph, Tangled). Audiences in the U.S. were 40% 12 & Under and 79% families, and that family play works as a strength given the current and upcoming competitive landscape in some of the individual overseas markets. In what’s looked at as a marathon run, rather than a sprint, the thinking is that word of mouth will also continue to bring older audiences into theaters. In Europe, Saturday results were very strong with a lot of family support for the movie. South East Asia was also welcoming with No. 1s in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. The latter set the biggest debut ever for an original IP Pixar film.
Footage was first debuted at a special screening in Cannes which showed the photorealism of the photography and whetted journalists’ appetite for the story of a world in which the dinosaurs never suffered extinction and the friendship between a caveboy and a young dino separated from his family.
Fox’s James McAvoy/Daniel Radcliffe take on the doctor and Igor began offshore life with $11.8M from 4,919 screens in 25 markets. Led by Russia ($1.9M from 1,277 screens), VF also excelled in Latin America. Mexico was a No. 3 bow with $1.75M from 1,174; Venezuela started at No. 2 with $1.13M on just 56; and Brazil was also No. 2 with $671K from 406. Russia was the top market for comps like Dracula Untold, I, Frankenstein and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (although the first two films skew more to action). Mexico and Brazil also did well by those films. VF notably bested Vampire Hunter by 32% in Mexico at open. Elsewhere, there were a number of No. 2 and 3 starts, boding well for upcoming prospects — certainly compared to the domestic release. There are 15 more markets to come next weekend for the Paul McGuigan-helmed genre pic. Among them, the UK where the British cast (which also includes Jessica Brown and Andrew Scott) should be a draw.
MGM/New Line/Warner Bros’ Rocky-inspired drama punched out of the box with $2.5M from 240 admissions on 391 screens in seven offshore markets. This is just about $9.5% of the international footprint and includes Australia and 6 smaller plays. In Oz, the Ryan Coogler-helmed story that follows Apollo Creed’s son into the ring grossed $1.2M from 189 screens, handily beating opening results for Southpaw, The Fighter, Cinderella Man and Million Dollar Baby. New Zealand debuted with a very good $100K on 46 screens and the UAE actuals came in at No. 2 in the market with $373K on 56. Key upcoming territories include Japan (12/23), France (1/13), Germany and Italy (1/14), and the UK (1/15).
A week after The Weinstein Company launched Carol in four theaters in the U.S., the awards season contender starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara debuted in the UK with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday figure of $724K from 206 screens and $818K cume since its Wednesday opening. Combined with the Todd Haynes-directed film’s North American tally of $583K, Carol’s global total is $1.4M with the rest of the world to come including the title’s wider rollout in the U.S.
With an additional $63.2M this frame, MJ2 has an international tally of $243.7M. At about the same point in the run, MJ1 was on $254.6M. That figure did not include China where MJ1 opened in February this year. Part 2 has taken $21.3M there to date in a competitive market that has never truly sparked to the franchise whose books have not had the same exposure. Combined with domestic, the worldwide total is $442.3M after 12 days in release.
The top ex-U.S. market is still the UK where Katniss targeted another $6.9M in the session for a $29.4M cume and a hold at No 1. That’s followed by Germany with $7.9M for $25.7M, slightly higher than MJ1 at the same point and also at No. 1 in the market. Mexico comes in after China with a drop to No. 2 and a total of $14.7M, followed by Australia where the tributes are still in first place after adding $3.7M for a $12.7M total to date.
Spain was the new opener this frame — and the film’s final overseas market — which brings the total to 92. Katniss & Co wisely held Spain for this weekend, rather than open head-to-head last frame with local sequel Spanish Affairs 2. MJ2 came in at No. 2 in its debut with $4.2M versus SA2’s strong No. 1 hold with $5.7M.
Universal is releasing that film in Spain, but also has Mockingjay 2 in Italy. Katniss stayed on her toes inside The Boot with $1.8M and the top spot for an 11-day total of $7.1M.
Ridley Scott’s all-audience sci-fi epic is the director’s biggest hit ever at the domestic, international and worldwide box office with $544M global. Of that, $337.1M is the international take, far surpassing Scott’s previous offshore heavy, Prometheus and its $278M. A $51.56M weekend came largely from China where the Fox title grossed $50M on 4,848 screens. Besting the debuts of comps Gravity (+39%) and Interstellar (+58%), Martian‘s peformance demonstrates growth in the market coupled with a continued taste for the genre. It has also benefited from a great run elsewhere since its debut in early October, and has a key plot element that features the Chinese as instrumental in the red planet rescue mission for Matt Damon’s Mark Watney. Damon, Scott and co-stars Sebastian Stan and Chen Shu were in Beijing for the world premiere on November 20. Of the Middle Kingdom haul, about $6.6M came from 249 IMAX plays. Japan is still to come in February.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Steven Spielberg’s Bridge Of Spies, which Fox is releasing overseas, was in major expansion this frame and is now playing in 51 markets. With the UK and Germany among the openers, the drama earned $7.4M from 2,660 screens in all 51. The offshore cume is now $29.9M. The UK ($2.5M from 526) started off at the same level as 2012’s Lincoln, while Germany ($900K from 504) and Holland ($312K from 77) were well ahead of the bows of both Lincoln and Argo. Solid openings also came across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. There are five more markets next weekend including Belgium, France, Russia, and Spain.
SPANISH AFFAIRS 2
Universal continues to see mucho dinero from its local smash sequel Spanish Affairs 2. The film held at No. 1 for the second week in a row, despite the arrival of Mockingjay Part 2. Although it began the weekend in No. 2 behind Katniss, SA2 rose on Saturday to end the weekend at $5.7M from 394 dates. The 10-day total is now $17.5M. After nine days, it became the 5th highest-grossing movie of the year in Spain behind Minions, Jurassic World, Inside Out and Fifty Shades Of Grey – bumping Furious 7 out of the 5th slot to No. 6. UPI director general Jose Luis Hervias attributes the film’s success to its “entertaining and engaging story, very strong characters and the audiences themselves who have not only enjoyed the film but become true advocates. Reviews were not great at first, but audiences become champions to prove that opposed to those critics the film is actually a must see.” To top it off, in yet another milestone for Universal this year, box office in Spain has now crossed €143.4M, the highest box office ever achieved by any company in one year in the market.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
Sony’s hit comedy animation checked into seven more markets this frame, scaring up $4.7M from nearly 4,800 screens in 75 total. The offshore cume on the Adam Sandler sequel is now $270.3M. Among the new plays was Australia where it was the top opener at $1.8M from 414 screens, outpacing HT1. The UK remains HT2’s top ex-U.S. play with $29.8M to date. Korea bows next on 12/24.
Blumhouse Productions’ Universal release from writer/director/producer M. Night Shayamalan made its final trips abroad this frame, going out in Brazil, Italy, Russia, Bolivia and Uruguay. The weekend estimate is $1.9M for an international total of $30.1M. The worldwide cume is approaching $100M at $95.2M to date on the staggered release. Brazil was a No. 5 debut with $257K at 202 dates; Italy opened at No. 3 with a very solid $962K at 240 dates and Russia grossed $330K at 410.
LADY IN THE VAN
The Australian comedy has fashioned a 32-day total of $11.9M Down Under. With $711K in its most recent session, the Universal-released Kate Winslet-starrer held at No. 5 in both Australia and New Zealand with respective tallies of $10.8M and $1.1M.
The Peanuts Movie (FOX): International total $11M through Dec. 1 with 61 markets to go, including Japan on Dec. 4
Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (PAR): +$480K for $10.3M international
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (PAR): +$438K for $59.2M international
Steve Jobs (UNI): +$384K for $6.1M international as rollout continues
By The Sea (UNI): +$318k for $1.02M international as limited release continues
Crimson Peak (UNI): +$321K for $42.96M international (penultimate market, Korea, debuted with $224K; Japan releases in January)
The Last Witch Hunter (LG) +$1.5M for $81M international, $107.9M global As of Dec. 1 (Opens Jan. 7 in Korea)
LOCAL-LANGUAGE / CHINA
Since its opening November 19th the romantic comedy Our Times, directed by Chen Yu Shan (aka Frankie Chen) in has taken in $19.5M and is No. 2 behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. It has also accumulated $72.8M in international territories to date. Our Times was released in Taiwan in August and grossed $13 million and ranked No. 1 among all movies in the territory. Other Asian markets including Hong Kong followed.
THE VANISHED MURDERER
Hong Kong director Lo Chi-Leung’s latest period thriller is a followup of sorts to The Bullet Vanishes. This one focuses on a detective (Lau Ching-Wan) investigating a string of murders that take place after the escape of a femme fatale from prison. The movie has uncovered $7.4M to date in China.
BAD GUYS ALWAYS DIE
Directed by Sun Hao, this one concerns a group of guys whose raucous road trip takes a violent and murderous turn. Popular Taiwan TV and movie actor Chen Bo-lin heads the cast of the movie that has grossed $5.9M in its first week in the Middle Kingdom. (Title is apparently unrelated to that of a number by Dr. Dre and Eminem from the soundtrack for Wild Wild West.)