EXCLUSIVE: Lots of movement on the international box office front this past weekend, and into the beginning of the week. Korean zombie sequel Peninsula, as we reported Sunday, made a meal of five overseas markets with a $21M Wednesday-Sunday frame. That’s the best start we’ve seen since March when Onward opened to $28M in 47 markets just as coronavirus fears were spiking and most countries closed cinemas.
On Monday, China got back to business, reaching $500K roughly from about 9K screenings in low-risk areas. Today, the Middle Kingdom surpassed that with $677K as of 10PM local and mostly off of reissues in the mix, led by Christmas hit Sheep Without A Shepherd.
There is still no confirmed date for Beijing movie theaters to open, though we are hearing it could be within a week. That would be even better news as Hollywood titles that were sidelined by COVID are set to roll out in the Middle Kingdom beginning Friday with Dolittle and Bloodshot, followed by 1917 and Sonic The Hedgehog on July 31.
With Warner Bros undating Tenet, and saying it will give the Christopher Nolan movie a non-traditional rollout, it’s likely some overseas markets will see the film before domestic. Such majors as Korea and France would certainly seem viable hubs with 100% of cinemas open in each and strong grosses — all things considered — in the past few weeks. If China continues on an upward curve, that would appear another key possibility. There will be concerns about piracy, to be sure, but international industry executives I’ve spoken with are eager to get the buiness rolling again offshore.
In the meantime during this entirely fluid situation, here’s a snapshot at what went down in various markets this weekend (for reference, here’s last week’s report).
KOREA – An $11.2M Thursday-Sunday frame (which does not include Peninsula’s 2020 record-setting Wednesday) was good for a 439% increase across the Top 10 titles versus last session. It also helped the market to be just 46% off last year’s comparable session. Peninsula was one of the most anticipated movies of the year in Korea and its performance is even more impressive given that research indicates audiences there are particularly cautious about health concerns, and also very cost-conscious — the movie did $365K on 18 IMAX screens (it also took $310K from 10 Taiwan IMAX screens where the total gross was $4.7M; in Singapore its overall gross was $795K to best Train To Busan’s 2016 start, including an IMAX component). Behind Peninsula in Korea was last week’s champ #Alive which has now cumed over $13M and is another hit from this market that has such a strong local industry. It’s possible that Korea moves up the annual charts this year; it has traditionally been the No. 4 offshore market behind China, Japan and the UK.
FRANCE – Also demonstrating desire for fresh films, France gave SND’s Divorce Club the top spot this frame with 194K tickets sold from Wednesday-Sunday. Overall, there were about 600K admissions, a 15% jump on last weekend and a gross from the Top 10 of over $4M. Last week’s new entries, local pic Tout Simplement Noir and WB’s Scoob! landed at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. The King Of Staten Island will be new tomorrow. Masks are now mandatory in closed spaces in France, with distancing one seat between customers at movie theaters.
GERMANY – Russell Crowe-starrer Unhinged got its first release here this past session, coming in at an estimated $255K from about 380 screens. This was perhaps lower than expected, given good weather and lingering virus fears. Still, it was a No. 1 opening — again, audiences want new fodder. There are about 500 locations open in Germany which accounts for just 46% of the total estate, so all numbers are still to be taken with a grain of salt. Reopenings are gradual and rural cinemas are still closing mid-week with limited opening hours on weekends. Overall, across the Top 10, Germany was at $1.24M, a 10% slide from the last session.
AUSTRALIA – Universal released The King Of Staten Island for the first time in Oz this weekend, grossing $253K from about 160 sites. Also new was Studiocanal’s Follow Me in 3rd with $157K at 150 (including sneaks). The Top 10 was about even with last weekend at $1.03M. There are currently about 185 locations open (46%) with Melbourne still in lockdown.
NETHERLANDS – Scoob! held the top dog slot again, adding $243K for an $878K cume so far. Follow Me was new, landing at No. 2 with $132K and was followed by the 3rd frame of local family pic Pirates Down The Street which has now grossed $643K. The Top 10 also included WB’s German version of Lassie Come Home and war pic The Last Full Measure. Overall, there was a 20% drop across the Top 10 to $943K.
SPAIN – Barcelona cinemas were shut down again this weekend as there is also talk of closing the borders amid new clusters of coronavirus. In total, there are just about 250 locations open (37%). Nevertheless, the Top 10 jumped 100% to $878K. Play was led by the first week of local comedy Superagente Makey from director Alfonso Sanchez at $305K from 250 sites. It was followed by the bow of Scoob! with $466K, also at 250. The Wretched and The Peanut Butter Falcon were also new, helping boost overall box office.
MALAYSIA – The market got a big boost from Peninsula with $955K from the frame at 140 locations. That was followed by last week’s 1 & 2 films, Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna and My Hero Academia, both from Japan. The Top 10 was filled out by reissues and accumulated $861K for a 318% hike on last session.
NEW ZEALAND – Yet another hike across the Top 10 in the COVID-free market, with $749K (+36%). Trolls World Tour continues to be the top draw, now with a cume of $1.28M after three sessions. The Personal History Of David Copperfield came in new at No. 2 with $151K from about 100 sites while The King Of Staten Island was also new at No. 4 with $59K from about 60. Follow Me opens Thursday.
SAUDI ARABIA – The Kingdom makes its first appearance on out international chart this week thanks to strong starts for Universal/Blumhouse’s The Hunt ($147K/13 sites) as well as Mel Gibson-starrer Force Of Nature ($129K/15) and Bruce Willis pic Trauma Center ($99K/15). The full weekend was worth $555K across the Top 10 titles. Masks, gloves and two-meter distancing are obligatory here.
JAPAN – Japan had no new offerings this week, but was led again by Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man, adding $211K from 176 locations for a two-week cume of $1M. Dolittle and Little Women, Sonic and other Hollywood re-releases still populate the Top 10 which was good for $522K. This is a steep 45% drop from last session. COVID-19 cases have been rising in key cities, notably Tokyo, to impact box office performance.
UK – The market was about even with last session, grossing $253K from the Top 10 titles as just 15% of cinemas are open. Onward and The Empire Strikes Back switched places this weekend with the Disney/Pixar movie traveling back to No. 1 ($62K/120 sites) for a $7M cume. There was nothing new in the market save German animation Dreambuilders which came in at No. 7. Stage Mother will be new this week.
ITALY – A 9% increase from the Top 10 equated to $142K for the weekend. Play was led by the re-release of local title The Best Years from Gabriele Muccino at $56K from 95 locations (there are just about 95 cinemas operating for 13% of the estate). The cume is approaching $6M after an earlier sortie in February. Largely the chart is a host of reissues including Joker, Parasite, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit. Local pic Bad Tales, new five sessions ago, has cumed $101K. Onward will open for the first time in the market tomorrow.
Elsewhere, the UAE had a $176K weekend from the Top 10, while Mexico (at 17% of the market operating) did $72K, Russia (66 sites open) scored $39K, and Brazil (with 5 locations open) did $31K.