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International Box Office: ‘Wolverine’ Sets Pace for Summer

Big opening for ‘Wolverine” bodes well for summer tentpoles.

The rest of the world welcomed "Wolverine" warmly over the weekend, with the Fox film opening in 101 markets to the take of $72 million.


That brought the movie’s worldwide total to $160 million and got Hollywood’s  summer blockbuster season off to a predictably hot start.


Studios are in high expectation mode now, as they will be rolling out their big titles week after week from now through the end of summer. Next week is Paramount’s "Star Trek," on 7,000 screens, and then comes Sony’s "Angels & Demons."


One of the top 10 markets around the world, Mexico pushed back the opening of "Wolverine" due to the swine flu scare, but a date has not been given. Same with "Star Trek."


Showing just how much dominance the tentpoles have, the second biggest film over the weekend was "17 Again," which earned just $8.3 million in 25 markets. The Zac Efron romantic comedy has grossed $38 million overseas.


The international market is critical for "X-Men."The best take for any of the series  internationally is 2006’s "X-Men: The Last Stand," which grossed $225 million, exactly 50 percent of the total box office take. The earlier "X-2: X-Men United" in 2003 had a smaller take internationally, with 47% of the total revenue, $193 million, coming overseas. 


In 2000,"X-Men" grossed $139 million overseas, which was 47% of the total box office.


"Wolverine’s" opening keeps things going after a year in which records are being broken with every passing week. Despite the global economic meltdown, the international box office saw ticket sales rise 4% among the major studios in 2008. And over the past two years, they have seen a 15% rise.


The international box office now comprises two-thirds of all box office revenue, according to the Motion Picture Association.


The breakdown for ‘Wolverine" demos was to be expected from such a huge opener: It was number 1 in every market in which it debuted.


Key territories tell the story: "Wolverine" scored $9.8 million n the U.K. In France it earned $7.4 million, and in Spain, it grossed $5.5 million.


While all eyes are on the summer tentpoles, "Fast & Furious" is behaving like a bona fide smash on its own, having driven itself to $182 million ($6.7 million this weekend) and having sat in the top spot the previous three weekends.


Disney’s "Hannah Montana: The Movie" is actually traveling well enough, landing $6.7 million from 12 markets.


And "Monsters vs. Aliens" continues to perform, taking the No. 4 spot. DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s film took in another $6.1 million in 60 markets, boosting its international total to $152.1 million and its worldwide total to $334.5 million.


Mirroring its weak performance Stateside, "State of Play" gained little traction, scoring $5.1 million in 14 territories. Its international total is now $12.4 million.