‘Aladdin’ Rides To Princely $212M+ Global Bow; ‘Rocketman’ Blasts Off In UK – International Box Office

Nancy Tartaglione

UPDATE, TUESDAY AM writethru with actuals: Disney’s live-action take on the classic 1992 animated Aladdin flew slightly higher at the international box office compared to Sunday’s estimates, with a $122M start. That lands the Will Smith-starrer right at the top end of industry predictions with a better-than-expected debut in some Asian markets where word of mouth made for increased weekend play. With domestic also on a loftier magic carpet ride, the global three-day opening was $212.4M, better than the $207M Sunday estimate. If we include the domestic Monday holiday, then the worldwide bow is $234.7M.

In North America, the film has performed above expectations, with strong audience response. Overseas, there was significant Saturday-Sunday uptick from the early midweek bows which indicates family support for the Guy Ritchie-directed musical and as offshore audiences also like it better than critics. Holds on Sunday in markets like China and Korea were charmed with a 4% drop in the former and a 7% jump in the latter. That doesn’t usually happen.

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Strong performance in Latin America was expected given how it leans into family fare, and the movie was No. 1 across the region, tracking above both The Jungle Book and Cinderella. What’s surprising here is that all of Asia also bowed at No. 1. That’s a relief to Disney since Korea and the South East Asian markets were a concern coming into the session while China is always a swing.

Notably in China, the Maoyan score went up through the weekend, reaching 9.1 (reviews aggregator Douban is giving it a lower 7.8). The gross for the three-day in the Middle Kingdom is $18.7M, near the top of the range where we saw it ahead of opening. Word of mouth could help momentum continue there, although Godzilla: King Of The Monsters had its first previews this weekend and is expected to stomp all over the next frame.

In both Indonesia and India, Aladdin’s maiden voyage has already topped the entire run of Maleficent. In Taiwan, Korea and India, it’s better than all of Cinderella.

Cathleen Taff, Disney’s President of Theatrical Distribution, Franchise Management and Business & Audience Insights, tells us word of mouth helped in those markets where the property has different notoriety compared to the studio’s other characters. The tracking had not been as strong, but ultimately the weekend provided “exactly the kind of experience you want: people come find it, they have a good time, then tell other people.”

As for Europe, Abu and friends are tracking above both Maleficent and Cinderella. The UK and Italy were tops there with $8.4M and $6.6M, respectively. Spain served up the 2nd best start of 2019 and in the UAE and Jordan (where Smith trekked during a promotional tour) Aladdin flew to the best Ramadan opening of all time.

Turning back to the UK, this was a crowded pre-holiday session that included the launch of Paramount’s Elton John musical/fantasy biopic Rocketman. Fresh off its powerful Cannes debut, the Dexter Fletcher-helmed story came in at No. 2 behind Aladdin with a (captain) fantastic $6.8M from 1,284 screens. That’s a jump from the numbers we saw on Sunday, based on better-than estimated play that day and tops last year’s debut of A Star Is Born which similarly carries a 15-and-over age rating. Also in the UK, Illumination/Universal’s The Secret Life Of Pets 2 bounded into theaters in its first offshore bow with $4.1M. There will be long legs and a long overseas trajectory on both Rocketman and Pets 2 which rollout across the summer.

Elsewhere, Avengers: Endgame, which has ended its run in China, now has an international cume of $1.88B and a global tally of $2.684B (that’s $104M from Avatar).

And, Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, in its sophomore session, beat the worldwide gross of John Wick: Chapter 2 with $182M after 11 days in release.

Breakdowns and actuals on the films above and more have been updated below.

Disney’s live-action Aladdin performed at the top end of industry projections we were seeing ahead of the weekend. With $122M overseas for $212.4M global (for the three-day), the Will Smith-starrer is off to a good start, notably over-performing domestically and seeing a strong launch in Asia. (Including the four-day domestic opening, the worldwide total is $234.7M). In IMAX, the worldwide bow is $15M with $6.9M from 996 international screens.

In like-for-like opening comps and at today’s rates, The Jungle Book bowed to $160M abroad, Maleficent did $107M and Cinderella $85M. The ultimate best markets on those films was a mix of China, Japan, UK, Mexico and India.

The Guy Ritchie-helmed Aladdin is in 54 material markets this session, with Japan joining on June 7 in what looks to be a nicely teed-up date. All play so far is led by China with $18.7M which is also at the top of the local range we saw ahead of the opening. There, word of mouth and social scores helped the movie despite there being no star-studded premiere and a concern younger audiences might have less interest given the rest of the cast outside Smith does not have a big following in the market. Smith is a star there, though he hasn’t had a major film in the Middle Kingdom in several years.

Elsewhere in Asia, Aladdin was No. 1 everywhere with Saturday/Sunday uplift from the early midweeks. Australia and India had been expected to do solid business and did deliver, but there was worry over Korea and the South East hubs. However, the first weekend points to word-of-mouth momentum and in Indonesia, Aladdin is the top Disney Live Action title to date (excluding the Marvel/Lucasfilm pics). Using the same comps, it’s No. 2 in India and Vietnam. The opening weekend exceeded the whole run of Maleficent in Indonesia and India and all of Cinderella in Taiwan, Korea and India.

Family-friendly Latin America gave Genie No. 1s across the board with Aladdin tracking ahead of both Jungle Book and Cinderella, and very close to Maleficent. Mexico leads the region with an estimated $9.2M for three days, 121% ahead of Cinderella, 52% ahead of Jungle Book and 3% behind Maleficent, making it the second highest ever May opening weekend there. Brazil’s bow came in above all comps (+92% on Jungle Book/+55% on Cinderella/+35% on Maleficent).

In Europe, Aladdin faced stronger competition, notably from John Wick: Chapter 3 in Germany, which was expected. Across the region, it is tracking ahead of both Maleficent and Cinderella. As noted above, the UK and Italy were tops with $8.4M and $6.6M, respectively. The UK has a bank holiday this weekend that leads into half-term school breaks and sets up nice play.

In Italy Aladdin grabbed the 2nd best opening weekend of 2019, behind only Avengers: Endgame, and was 17% ahead of Maleficent. Elsewhere, Aladdin also posted the second highest opening weekend to date in 2019 in Spain, and was the best Ramadan bow ever in the UAE and Jordan.

The Top 5 markets this launch session are China ($18.7M), Mexico ($9.2M), UK ($8.4M), Italy ($6.6M) and Korea ($6.5M).

Paramount’s Elton John musical/fantasy biopic strutted its electric boots into the UK this weekend, playing to the homefield advantage and grossing $6.8M to rank No. 2 behind Aladdin. On 1,284 screens, the debut is bigger than the similarly-rated R-rated A Star Is Born. There will be a desire on this film to comp to box office phenom Bohemian Rhapsody (which also opened early in the UK), but caution should be exercised — even though Rocketman is directed by Dexter Fletcher who completed Bo Rhap after Bryan Singer was fired from that picture.

It’s important to note that Rocketman takes a different, R-rated warts-and-all approach to the story of the former Reggie Dwight whereas the PG-13 Bo Rhap downplayed much of the homosexual nature of the story of Freddie Mercury and steered from being an all-in biopic in an effort to appeal to the masses.

Rocketman‘s terrific reviews after that showstopping Cannes premiere, along with early Oscar buzz for star Taron Egerton who does all of his own singing, and a just-released soundtrack album will stoke interest among the John faithful and more. We are coming into a crowded corridor, though musicals do tend to be leggy, and we’ll take a closer look at prospects and follow the rollout over the coming days and weeks. Rocketman heads to another 39 markets this coming weekend. Along with the U.S., the yellow brick road leads to Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Latin America. Korea and Russia bow June 6 and Japan goes August 23.

Back to the UK. This was the widest ever for any Paramount release, as well as the widest release ever for a film with a 15-and-over certificate. The marketing presented Rocketman as a cultural moment celebrating a true British icon. From early on, the campaign aimed to establish the film as bold and emotional. Getting the word out, there were 14 local print covers in support of Rocketman including GQ, Daily Mail Weekend, Attitude, The Sunday Times Culture, Guardian Weekend and Observer Magazine.

In March, tastemakers, press and influencers were among the first audiences to see 15 minutes of footage at Abbey Road studios. There was also a motion take over at Waterloo, the UK’s busiest train station, with a large floor piano that allowed commuters to play along to the title song with the help of visual aids on a large branded screen. Paramount also partnered with Spotify to create a playable masthead in a guitar-hero style game, but using a piano. John’s beloved football club, Watford FC, partnered to celebrate Rocketman with a tribute in-stadium sing-a-long with over 20,000 fans.

The team further collaborated with influencers to create a #NeverOrdinary campaign that included working with Instagram photographer Linda Blacker to style and snap LGBTQ and body-positive influencers in 70s-inspired dress. The campaign was extended further around the country with #NeverOrdinary Devil Wings Murals, using the costume wings form the movie across London, Brighton, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Ahead of the London premiere, Egerton and co-star Jamie Bell appeared on The Graham Norton Show as well.

Also in a one-market-only debut, Illumination/Universal’s sequel to the $875M worldwide grossing 2016 original, kicked off in the UK with $4.1M at 613 locations. This is down from the original’s bow by about half, although this was an intensely crowded weekend in the market. The No. 3 start is 16% ahead of Hotel Transylvania 2 and in line with Kung Fu Panda 2 as it heads into holiday play. On Saturday, the Pets popped into Russia for previews which were $900K and had the movie at No. 2 for the day.

The household critters are again directed by Chris Renaud with lead dog Max voiced by Patton Oswalt as he deals with new realities after his owner has a baby. On vacation, he meets old farm dog Rooster who has a few lessons to impart as voiced by Harrison Ford in his first animated appearance. Tiffany Haddish plays fearless Shih Tzu Daisy who shows up to teach Kevin Hart’s Snowball he’s not quite the most adorable creature on the block. The pair had attendees at CinemaCon in stitches recently in Vegas.

As for dating, Russia is up next on May 30 with Italy going the same time as domestic (June 7). The domestic bow-wow was tracking at about $63M as of May 16 when Anthony D’Alessandro noted Uni will bet on the longer leg potential of Pets 2 given the flood of event pics in the late May corridor.

Pets 2 will stretch into more of overseas through June including Australia, Germany and Brazil. There are July debuts in Japan, Korea and France with Spain and Mexico in August. Notably, these Pets are getting a July 5 launch in China, bringing a Hollywood title into what is typically a blackout period.

After its franchise-best start last weekend, Lionsgate’s threequel this frame topped the total worldwide gross of its predecessor, John Wick: Chapter 2, with $182M global from just 11 days. Internationally, the sophomore session was good for $24.8M in 74 markets. The cume offshore, where Lionsgate works with local distribution partners, is $74.4M through today.

Germany, which has been fervent about the series, was one market where Aladdin faced off with major muscle. The pictures were neck-and-neck in terms of admissions, per local reporting, though Disney has Aladdin at $3.6M and Lionsgate has JW3 dominated with $3.5M. Either way, JW3’s local currency bow is 29% bigger than JW2. France opened 81% bigger than the last movie with $2.2M at 329 sites and ranking No. 2. Austria and Belgium also outdid JW2 by 40% and 32%, respectively.

Leading all play is the UK with $7.9M, followed by Russia ($6.4M), Australia ($5.9M), Mexico ($4.4M) and Taiwan ($3.9M). Next up are Spain and Norway this coming weekend.

Another $24.7M for the miniature sleuth came from 17,307 screens in 72 markets this session. The overseas running cume is now $238M for $355.2M global. China’s 3rd weekend lifted to $85.1M, with the movie No. 2 behind Aladdin. Japan after four frames now has $21.2M, dropping just 26% from last weekend.

Those two hubs lead all play, followed by the UK ($13.7M), Mexico ($10.6M) and Germany ($9.5M).

With a further $16.3M, Disney/Marvel’s Endgame brings its cume to $1.88B internationally and $2.684B worldwide. That puts $104M between it and Avatar for the all-time record. A final still will be close for the heroes and the Na’vi. If Endgame falls short, a re-release could certainly get them there, but it remains to be seen which way Disney chooses to go.

Endgame ended its run in China with $629.1M and in the UK has now passed $110M. Regionally, the grosses are an all-time industry high of $1.11B in Asia-Pacific; $505M in Europe where it is the No. 5 movie ever; and $246M in Latin America, also the all-time industry high.

Behind China are the UK ($110.9M), Korea ($103.9M), Brazil ($81.6M) and Mexico ($75.6M) to round out the Top 5.

Brightburn (Sony): $4.5M intl weekend (50 markets); $7.8M intl cume
The Hustle (UNI): $3.5M intl weekend (31 markets); $31.1M intl cume
A Dog’s Journey (UNI): $1.3M intl weekend (14 markets); $5.7M intl cume ($31.6M including non-Uni markets)
The Dead Don’t Die (UNI): $500K intl weekend (2 markets); $1.9M intl cume

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