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'Angels' flies high worldwide

The weekend's No. 1 film opens with a modest $48 million in North America but its appeal elsewhere boosts its global weekend box-office total to $152.3 million.

May 18, 2009|Ben Fritz

Americans may not be as hot for international intrigue and Tom Hanks as they are superheroes and starships, but luckily for Sony Pictures, tastes are different overseas.

The studio's "Angels & Demons" overcame a modest $48-million opening in the U.S. and Canada to gross $152.3 million worldwide thanks to opening at No. 1 in 96 other countries. Its $104.3-million international launch is the biggest since "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in May 2008.

"Angels & Demons," which cost $150 million to produce, is the latest in a string of sophisticated adult thrillers, including "State of Play," "Duplicity" and "The International," to post unspectacular domestic bows. But the film's many overseas locales seemed to appeal more to foreign audiences, as did Hanks who, like many top movie stars, now carries more weight with audiences abroad than at home.

The weekend's only new movie in wide release was nearly eclipsed by "Star Trek," which grossed $43 million on its second weekend, according to studio estimates, down just 43% from its launch. Its drop is the smallest for any big-budget summer action-adventure movie in at least three years, indicating extraordinarily positive word of mouth.

After an opening driven by men over age 25, the audience for "Star Trek" has broadened to include more families.

"We did surveys in the same theaters as last weekend and found that we're getting more parents, we're getting younger and we're getting more women," said Don Harris, Paramount's executive vice president of distribution.

"Angels" not only came in well below the $77.1-million opening of its predecessor, "The Da Vinci Code," on the same weekend three years ago, but also the similarly budgeted "Star Trek" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which opened with $75.2 million and $85.1 million, respectively, on the last two weekends.

Although nobody in the industry was predicting "Angels" would beat its predecessor, given that the book sold fewer than half as many copies and there was much less public controversy, prerelease tracking had indicated it would bring in closer to $60 million in its first weekend.

"Angels" also fell short of the $155-million international opening of "The Da Vinci Code." But that performance was so outsized -- it still stands as the fourth-biggest start of all time -- that the new film still stands as impressive, particularly given that launches in Mexico, China and India were delayed.

Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, predicted "Angels" would end up grossing about $500 million worldwide. That's well above the likely total for "Star Trek," which, despite its strong ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, is performing modestly overseas albeit far better than any previous movie in the series. After 10 days, its total foreign gross is $70 million.

Through its third weekend, Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" has brought in $151.1 million in the U.S. and Canada and $144.5 million internationally.

Despite the struggles of "Angels" at home and "Star Trek" abroad, all three of the big-budget event movies that have opened this summer are performing solidly, with final worldwide grosses of $350 million to $500 million looking likely.

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ben.fritz@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

BOX OFFICE

Preliminary results in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections:

*--* -- Movie 3-day gross Total Weeks -- (studio) (millions) (millions) 1 Angels & Demons $48.0 $48.0 1 -- (Sony) 2 Star Trek 43.0 147.6 2 -- (Paramount) 3 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 14.8 151.1 3 -- (Fox) 4 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past 6.9 40.1 3 -- (Warner Bros.) 5 Obsessed 4.6 62.6 4 -- (Sony) 6 17 Again 3.4 58.4 5 -- (Warner Bros.) 7 Monsters vs. Aliens 3.0 190.6 8 -- (Paramount) 8 The Soloist 2.4 27.5 4 -- (Paramount) 9 Next Day Air 2.3 7.6 2 -- (Summit) 10 Earth 1.7 29.1 4 -- (Disney) *--*

Industry totals

*--* 3-day gross Change Year-to-date gross Change (in millions) from 2008 (in billions) from 2008 $142 +7.8% $3.6 +16% *--*

Note: A movie may be shown on more than one screen at each venue.

Source: Hollywood.com Box Office

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