Box Office Milestone: 'Life of Pi' Crosses $300 Mil Overseas, Nears $400 Mil Worldwide
The Hollywood Reporter -- Marking veteran filmmaker Ang Lee's top-grossing film, Life of Pi has jumped the $300 million mark at the international box office for a worldwide total of $393 million through Sunday.
The 20th Century Fox film took in weekend earnings of $60.1 million from 64 foreign markets, narrowly beating Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Hobbit, which had topped the foreign chart for three weekends, is certainly no slouch. The tentpole took in $57.1 million from 65 markets for an international cume of $561 million and worldwide total of $824.8 million.
Many questioned whether Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel 2001 novel about a young Indian boy lost at sea with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, could be successfully adapted for the big screen. Costing north of $120 million to produce, the movie has earned $91.1 million domestically but is doing much bigger business overseas.
FILM REVIEW: Life of Pi
Life of Pi made headlines when debuting first in Asia, grossing $90.8 million in China alone. Now, it's doing impressive business in Europe and Latin America, as well as Australia.
Lee's film opened at No. 1 in seven of eight new markets during the weekend, with Russia leading the pack with $14.1 million. In Australia, the movie opened to $8.3 million to come in No. 1 behind Hobbit and Les Miserables, which headlines Aussie star Russell Crowe.
Tiny New Zealand generated $1.2 million from 140 screens for a per-screen average of nearly $8,500. In Europe, Life of Pi has taken in $28.7 million in the U.K., while it has earned $15.4 million in Germany.
Life of Pi held at No. 1 in Mexico over the weekend, putting its total there at $11.2 million.
"Pi is resonating with people of all cultures around the world," Fox president of international distribution Paul Hanneman said.
Meanwhile, Hobbit drew $6.1 million from 560 sites in its second weekend of play in Australia, lifting the market cume there to $29.7 million. Biggest territory for the film remains Germany where the cume stands at $74 million.
Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty made its first appearance at the international box office as it opened in Spain via Universal. The movie took in $1.5 million from 232 screens for a stand-out location average of $6,500, the best of any film. The opening was 545% larger than for Bigelow's 2008 Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.
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Opening in 15 markets over the weekend, including U.K. and France, Paramount's Tom Cruise action pic Jack Reacher grossed $22.3 million from 47 countries for an overseas cume of $55.6 million.
Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's 3D family animation title, boosted its total foreign take well past the $100 million mark ($132.7 million) thanks to a $19.5 million weekend in 56 territories. It has been playing for 10 stanzas on the foreign circuit. Worldwide, the film has grossed $311.2 million.
Universal's Les Mis drew a weekend total of $14.5 million from a total of 1,014 venues in 17 markets, lifting its early offshore cume to $81 million. The musical continued to enjoy a strong run in Japan, where it has now grossed $25.2 million
And chip it in stone: Final 2012 figures received this week from the Hollywood major studios -- Fox, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. -- confirm that their recent string of consecutive yearly box office records set on the foreign theatrical circuit has been snapped. Collective 2012 takings total $13.5 billion, slightly less that the record of $13.6 billion record set in 2011.
Fox, which leads the six companies, scored a 26 percent jump in yearly foreign box office with a total of $2.71 billion registered this year. No. 2 was Sony, which set this year a foreign box office record for the company, coming up with a total of $2.67 billion overseas. (Sony's previous best was $2.14 billion in 2009.)
Warner Bros. came in third with $2.67 billion for the year, down seven percent from last year and nine percent from the company's foreign b.o. record of $2.93 billion in 2010. No. 4 Disney recorded $2.09 billion in foreign box office, down 4 percent from 2011.
Despite one or two high-profile disappointments, No. 5 Universal logged a record year overseas, taking in $1.79 billion in foreign box office -- 41 percent higher than 2011 and 4 percent more than the company's previous record of $1.72 billion in 2008. With a contracted overseas release schedule, Paramount took a 51 percent tumble from 2011, grossing $1.57 billion offshore this year.
The biggest indie by far was Lionsgate, which collected $1.25 billion in foreign box office – up 280 percent from 2011 on the strength of Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 (which drew $524.7 million offshore) and The Hunger Games ($284.8 million).
Related article on THR.com:
How 'Skyfall,' 'The Hobbit' and 'Life of Pi' Used Digital to Dazzle
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