Buena Vista International (BVI) was celebrating two foldthis weekend as Santa brought a sleigh full of international number ones for TheChronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
Doubling its international territory count from 13 to 26 overthe Christmas weekend the family fantasy film brought a blow to King Kongas it took the international lead with $35.2m through Sunday. With December 26estimates it saw a $49m four-day holiday weekend as territories like the UKreturned to cinemas after a day's closure. With Monday incorporated itsinternational cumulative gross stands at $138m.
In comparison UIP's King Kong took $34.3m over thethree-day weekend from 55 territories for a 12-day gross of $153.6m. Universalexpects business to pick up now that the run up to the holiday weekend is over,when perhaps adults might have struggled to find three and a half hours sparein which to accommodate the giant ape, and many businesses and schools have notreopened ahead of New Year.
Narnia looks like a sure-fire international hit andwith so many territories to come (Australia has given only a taster of bigbusiness to come - see below - while Japan will not receive the film untilMarch 2006) it appears set to exceed all expectations.
A number one launch in France saw the film's opening 20%higher than King Kong's the previous week. A weekend of $8.7m gave BVIits biggest live action opening to date.
Russia saw the film manage the third biggest opening of alltime in the quickly growing market with $3m in three days from 303 screens and$4m in four-days (including December 26).
Italy also outplayed Kong's opening (by 60% accordingto BVI) with $3.3m, although, like Kong, it had to settle for thirdplace behind two local comedies led by Christmas In Miami (Natale AMiami).
Singapore was a territory worth marking as the film'sliterary origins are all but unknown in the Asian market. Its $1m weekend gave BVI its biggest ever start, some 70% higher than The Incredibles.Fantastic news for BVI and an indicator of how it may play elsewhere in Asia.
Sweden's $1.5m was also BVI's biggest ever launch anddoubled last week's Kong opening, while a powerful indicator of majorbusiness came in Norway where the film grossed a colossal $550,000 just on itsfirst day.
Australia also showed massive potential as first day figuresfrom December 26 rolled in. Narnia grossed $2.1m to claim the positionas second biggest opening day ever in the territory behind only The Lord OfThe Rings: The Two Towers in 2002.
Narnia was not BVI's only triumph, however, nor Kong'sonly woe.
Chicken Little enjoyed a $10m weekend, raising itsinternational cumulative to $78m, led by a $4.8m launch in Japan.
Taking thetop spot it was the fourth highest opening for a US animated film behind FindingNemo, The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc. The launch was 40%higher than that of Toy Story 2 and 92% higher than Madagascar.Even more significantly though its weekend was three times that of King Kong'ssecond weekend and double that of the ape's opening the week before.
With itsfamed love of creature features, most notably the Godzilla series ofwhich King Kong Versus Godzilla was the most successful, Japan wasexpected to be one the front runners for Kong and for the ape to havelost its lead so quickly and decisively will be a blow to UIP.
All is certainly not lost for King Kong, of course.
Its running time may have counted against it in the busy period ahead ofChristmas and reviews and word-of-mouth have been strong which should fuelbusiness for some time yet. The ape broke the record for Universal's highestgrossing week of all time in 23 territories including Australia, South Korea,Mexico and Russia and retained number ones in Spain, Australia, New Zealand,Mexico and Germany (among others) over the Christmas weekend. It also saw astunning opening in Indonesia where its $573,000 opening from 59 screens wasUIP and Universal's highest ever start and the market's third highest everbehind only Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and Spider-Man 2.
On a smaller scale, Fox's Cheaper By The Dozen 2 sawday-and-date releases in Australia, Spain and Puerto Rico taking $1.9m over theweekend with second, fourth and second chart positions respectively.
Australia also saw Monday (December 26) release Sony's FunWith Dick And Jane. The Jim Carrey comedy scored $700,000 on its first dayin its first international territory, finished second behind fellow Boxing Dayopener The Chronicles Of Narnia.