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Movie projector: '2012' will be big domestically, huge worldwide

2012 The apocalypse will be felt even stronger overseas than in the U.S.

"2012," Sony Pictures' $200-million disaster movie from genre specialist Roland Emmerich, is on track for strong domestic opening weekend ticket sales of about $55 million, according to people who have seen pre-release surveys.

Internationally, however, where the movie is opening simultaneously in 105 countries, including every major market except Japan, it's on track to do even bigger business. One person familiar with overseas research said it could easily collect $90 million from foreign territories, meaning the movie will quite possibly gross more than $140 million through Sunday around the world.

All six movies directed by Emmerich since 1994's "Stargate" have done between 63% and 66% of their total box office revenue overseas, with the exception of United States-centric picture "The Patriot."

The film has already racked up about $7.2 million from early openings in Belgium, France, Poland and Thailand. The French opening was the second biggest first day ever for a non-sequel. In Thailand, it had the biggest opening day of any film this year.

"2012" represents a huge investment for Sony, given the movie's substantial marketing costs beyond its outsized production budget. It's also a risky one given that big budget action/adventure movies are rarely released in November, a time of year that's usually home to family movies. The notable recent exceptions  have been the last two James Bond movies, 2006's "Casino Royale" and 2008's "Quantum of Solace," which opened to $47 million and $68 million domestically, respectively.

The movie's marketing has mixed disaster imagery with a campaign that plays off Mayan legends that the world will end in the year 2012. Even NASA has gotten in on the game, setting up a Web Q-and-A titled "2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End?"

Reviews for the movie have been mixed so far. As with any major tentpole release, early audience buzz will be crucial. A huge opening day is all but assured, but if word of mouth is bad, receipts for "2012" could fall quickly.

The only other movie opening nationwide this weekend is Focus Features' "Pirate Radio." Released last spring by Working Title Pictures in the United Kingdom, where the movie takes place, as "The Boat That Rocked," it performed very poorly. Director Richard Curtis recut the movie in hopes of a better response in the U.S.

The movie stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a DJ for an illegal rock-and-roll radio station broadcasting from an offshore ship. It's launching in only 882 theaters, meaning a modest gross of $3 million to $4 million is likely. Focus is hoping to start there and continue racking up solid ticket sales through the holiday.

One of the biggest box office stories will be the expansion of "Precious" to 174 theaters and five new cities (Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington). Last weekend in just 18 theaters in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Atlanta, it collected a record-breaking $1.9 million. Its performance this weekend will be an important test of whether the award-winning but dark film plays strongly beyond a small but devoted group of upscale independent movie fans and African Americans, particularly African American women.

Fox's stop-motion animated film "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," directed by Wes Anderson, also hits theaters this weekend, starting off at just four locations in Los Angeles and New York.

Disney is hoping for a very modest drop for "A Christmas Carol" after its weak $30-million domestic debut last weekend. The studio has said it expects the movie, which cost nearly $200 million to produce, to play strongly through at least Thanksgiving, if not Christmas.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Morgan Lily, Amanda Peet, Liam James and a lot of stuff falling down in "2012." Credit: Columbia Pictures

Comments () | Archives (8)

More slop from Hollywood.

Looks weak. Didn't Roland Emmerich direct a few turds as well?

Also Mecca is saved but the Vatican is destroyed. Why didn't they destroy the Vatican, Jeruselam and Mecca? I guess it's only appropriate to destroy symbols of Christianity.

This movie is going to be horrible. OMG the end of Mayan Calender, the whole world is gonna end....WRONG. This is sad that millions of people belive this propaganda.

Was the production company so broke they couldn't affort to film this movie in full color? Enough with the blue tint effect already. It's been done.

$200Million for one lousy action movie??? that's more than the costs of making Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, It Happened One Night, All About Eve, Singing in the Rain, American in Paris, King Kong, Vertigo, Rear Window, Ben Hur,.... combined.

I think this movie is going to be awesome, it looks really good as far as cinematography, judging by the trailers. I don't believe the world is going to be ending anytime soon, not within mine or anyone who gets a chance to read this comments lifetime. I find it hilarious that people are making a big deal about if it is true or not true, lol, it's only entertainment, relax people. I watched paranormal activity, not because I thought it was real but because I wanted to be entertained, and I wasn't, but unlike paranormal activity which I watched because I wanted to know what all the buzz was about, this movie really does look like it's going to be visually stunning. Can't wait to go see it, haven't seen precious yet but it looks like a well acted drama that I want to see as well.

The first half was good. The second half really sucked.

While "2012", the movie, is fiction, the impetus for its making is not. If anyone wants to explore some very compelling 2012 prophecies and the corresponding science, they should check out all the History Channel programs on this subject and visit the 2012 section at thecityedition.com, which contains a comprehensive compilation of articles and websites.


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