Movie Stars: Smith, Will–Global Appeal

December 24, 2007–Will Smith’s “I Am Legend” dominated the international box office during the pre-Christmas weekend with $25.3 million in 15 markets.

Smith’s apocalyptic thriller led a pack of five family-friendly films: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” “The Golden Compass,” “Enchanted, “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Bee Movie,” as each grossed at least $12 million.

With most markets seeing holiday vacations for the next two weeks, foreign box office should end the year with a bang. Hollywood’s six major studios have all already topped the $1 billion mark for the first time and are heading for a combined 2007 gross of $9.3 billion, 8% ahead of last year’s record-setting performance, led by Warner, with an estimated $2.15 billion.

“I Am Legend” helped Warner pad its lead with dominant launches in France with $7.6 million, taking 44% of the market, and in Spain with $5.8 million, or 45% of the market and more than double the “National Treasure” debut. Japan’s soph sesh declined only 37% to $3.2 million while South Korea slid 59% to $2.4 million.

“I Am Legend” also opened in first in Belgium and Holland with $1.3 million each. Picture, which has already cumed $54.3 million internationally, outperformed similar titles such as “Constantine,” “I Robot” and “Die Hard 4” in all markets and underlined Smith’s status as a worldwide box office draw.

“Legend” opens Wednesday in the U.K. for Boxing Day, one of the top moviegoing days of the year in that market.

Disney’s “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” found plenty of offshore traction in day-and-date launches with $22.3 million at 2,055 playdates in 17 markets — a healthy $11,338 per-location average. The Nicolas Cage actioner topped the 2004 original by 31% in comparable launches, topping Disney forecasts and signaling that it could exceed the $174 million “National Treasure” foreign cume.

The sequel finished first in Japan with $3.6 million, in South Korea with $3.5 million, in Australia with $2.8 million and in Taiwan with $2.5 million. “Treasure” came in a distant but decent second in Spain to “I Am Legend” with $2.6 million and third in Italy with $1.7 million to a pair of local comedies.