The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey once again dominated the overseas box office this weekend, though its noticeable drop suggests it doesn't have any chance of it matching Return of the King in the long run.
The first of a planned Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy added an estimated $96 million from 59 markets. The movie's top territory was Russia, where it debuted to a very strong $17.8 million. That's over three times as much as The Return of the King's debut, though a bump like that is pretty standard given Russia's rapid theatrical expansion in the last decade.
Holdovers fell 39 percent on average, which is better than the domestic performance (off 56 percent) but still not great around this time of year. Germany eased six percent to $14.2 million, while the U.K. was off 37 percent to $9.8 million. Other major markets include France ($7 million), Spain ($4.8 million), Italy ($3.1 million), and Mexico ($2.4 million). Japan remains a sore spot with just $7.7 million through two weekends; in comparison, Return of the King opened to over $14 million there in 2004 on its way to a $95 million total.
The Hobbit's overseas total reached $288.5 million, and worldwide is now at $438.6 million. While it will hold well through the end of the year, it does now seem certain that the movie will fall well short of $1 billion worldwide.
Life of Pi expanded in to a total of 46 markets and grossed an estimated $23.2 million this weekend. It had a good $5.8 million first place start in the U.K., and also performed well in France ($2.9 million), Mexico ($2.2 million) and Brazil ($1.6 million). It was a bit weak in Italy, though, where it took third place with under $1 million. The movie has already grossed $159.6 million (over half of which came from China), and it still has five major markets left to open—Germany next weekend followed by Australia, Russia and South Korea the following weekend, then Japan on Jan. 25.
Rise of the Guardians continued to chug along overseas; this weekend it added $13.7 million for a new total of $142.9 million.
Skyfall inched a bit closer to $1 billion worldwide this weekend. The international sensation added an estimated $9 million for a new foreign total of $694.3 million, which ranks ninth all-time. Adding in its domestic performance, the 23rd James Bond movie has earned $974.3 million worldwide. Skyfall is now officially set to open in China on Jan. 21, which will push the movie past $1 billion.
Thanks to solid debuts in Germany ($2.3 million) and the U.K. ($1.5 million), Pitch Perfect had its best overseas weekend yet with $6 million from 15 markets. So far, the a capella comedy has grossed $20.1 million.
A few days ahead of its U.S. debut, Les Miserables scored a strong $4.2 million in Japan. Remarkably, that's a better opening than The Hobbit had last weekend, and it's also a tad better than Mamma Mia!'s debut a few years ago. The musical expands in to Spain, South Korea and a few other Asian markets on Christmas, and reaches Australia on Dec. 26.
Jack Reacher debuted in seven minor territories this weekend and earned an estimated $2.5 million. According to Paramount Pictures International, the individual market grosses were close to Tom Cruise's 2010 movie Knight & Day, which wound up with over $185 million in foreign earnings. The crime thriller reaches France, the U.K. and over 20 other markets this week.
Other Notables - Weekend Gross - Gross-to-Date (in millions) Wreck-It Ralph - $7.3 - $67.6 Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $6.6 - $513.2 The Impossible - $2.5 - $60.2 Hotel Transylvania - $1.6 - $164.6 Anna Karenina - $1.2 - $19