Ahead of U.S. premiere, 'Rio' has biggest international debut of 2011
The 3-D animated movie "Rio" doesn't fly into U.S. theaters for another week, but it's already a hit overseas.
The family film about birds who embark on a Brazilian adventure opened in 72 foreign markets this weekend and collected a strong $55 million, according to an estimate from distributor 20th Century Fox. The movie opened in the No. 1 slot in 32 foreign markets, including Mexico, Germany, and China. And the film did the majority of its business in 3-D theaters, which comprised 71% of overall ticket sales.
"Rio" was originally slated to premiere in the U.S. this weekend. When the domestic release date was changed many of the international dates were left intact because a number of schools are out on holiday abroad.
Not surprisingly, the movie had one of its best debuts in Brazil, where it grossed $8.3 million -- the biggest-ever opening for an animated film in the country. Fox unveiled a strong promotional push in Rio de Janeiro, sending a number of press outlets to its March 22 premiere there.
In Russia, "Rio" was previewed in theaters early, so it had a slightly higher gross of $10.4 million. That was the best opening of any film to date this year in that country.
The film opens in 19 additional foreign markets, including France and Italy, next weekend.
Meanwhile, the hybrid live-action-animated film "Hop" is not finding as much success abroad. This weekend, the movie about the Easter bunny's teenage son grossed $5.9 million in 32 foreign markets, bringing its international total to $15.1 million. The film performed best in Australia, where it collected $1.6 million. By contrast, "Rio," which also opened down under this weekend, grossed $2.2 million in the country.
Next weekend "Hop" will debut in 10 more foreign markets, including Mexico and Spain.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: The animated birds who are the stars of "Rio." Credit: 20th Century Fox