Tom Cruise-starrer Jack Reacher: Never Go Back led the international box office this weekend with a $31M debut in 42 markets, including a soft start in China. Accompanying the ex-military policeman at the top of the charts are Tom Hanks holdover Inferno with $28.9M ($94.8M intl cume) and Jason Statham sequel Mechanic: Resurrection with about $24M in the Middle Kingdom ($50M intl cume). Across the Top 10 titles there was a 3% jump from last week when Inferno debuted in a pre-domestic release pattern that will see it hit $100M international before getting to North America later this week. Versus last year, this weekend is up 8% across the Top 10. At this time in 2015, Fox’s The Martian, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2 and Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man were in charge and nearing major milestones.

Next week sees the release of the latest Marvel movie as Doctor Strange starts offshore rollout in 32 markets ahead of domestic. Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular (and erstwhile) neurosurgeon is hitting such majors as the UK, France, Australia, Germany, Mexico and Korea. The movie travels to China on November 4 in a day-and-date release with the U.S.

This current weekend in China saw a lackluster start for Jack Reacher with $5.6M in 4th place. The $60M budgeted movie has significant Chinese investment from Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group who are acting as marketing partners — and Cruise earlier this month engaged in a local promotional push. But the character doesn’t seem to have resonated with local audiences the way some of Cruise’s other movies do. The first one made just $15M locally and this one is playing similarly.

Competition was also tough, especially from Mechanic: Resurrection in first place with a $24M start. That performance tops the Jason Statham-starring pic’s entire domestic run which began in August and comes despite a 26% rotten score on the Tomatometer.

The first Mechanic rolled into China after the summer blackout of 2012 and action fans who’d been deprived of Hollywood movies flocked to see it. Statham’s star has continued to grow in South East Asia owing to his various action franchises and this movie dominated screens with about double the daily showings of Jack Reacher. The flat fee release was handled by Huaxia.

The Middle Kingdom market is about to become very crowded. With box office having slowed its massive upswing there this year, the powers that be are being a bit more lax about the number of Hollywood movies that will get in under the 2016 wire. Along with Doctor Strange, pics set for release before December include Inferno, Trolls, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Keeping Up With The Joneses and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, among others.

Breakdowns have been updated below the original post.

PREVIOUS: Paramount and Skydance’s Tom Cruise sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, was this weekend’s major wide opener overseas where it punched up a $31M start in 42 markets — 20 of which were No. 1s. Combined with the domestic opening, the global bow is $54M. That’s 28% bigger than the original 2012 film whose worldwide launch was $42M in like-for-like markets, per Par. In IMAX, the overseas action is $2.6M on 526 screens. Of that, $1M came from 327 in China.

China was challenging, however. It’s the film’s top opening market this weekend at $5.6M, but the sequel came in 11% below the original and landed in 4th place. Facing Never Go Back was heavy local competition and the release of Jason Statham-starrer Mechanic: Resurrection. That actioner had about double the screenings of Never Go Back and dominated the frame at an unofficial $24M. The first Jack Reacher went on to gross $15M there.

Cruise did a three-day/three-city China tour recently to promote the film in which Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group have a significant investment. The companies are also acting as marketing partners on the title. But while Cruise resonates with local audiences in the Mission: Impossible movies and other pics, the Reacher character hasn’t made a similar connection.

In 30 other markets, the Ed Zwick-helmed film came in higher versus Jack Reacher the first. Russia was a No. 1 opening at $1.9M (+49%) and the UK landed at No. 2 with $3.3M (+24%), for example. The first movie went on to gross 63% of its overall box office overseas with $140M+.

Also debuting abroad, Ouija: Origin Of Evil got off to a $7.9M start with strong numbers out of Latin America for Universal. Elsewhere, and after a soft launch last week, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls combed out $18M in 14 Fox markets with No. 1s in nine. The offshore cume is $21.1M with 70 bows still to come.

In milestones, Uni’s The Girl On The Train has traveled past $100M at the worldwide box office; Fox’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children has topped $150M overseas; and Sony’s Inferno is on its way to $100M internationally — crossing the threshold ahead of the domestic opening.

Here’s how the weekend shaped up:

‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ film photocall, Shanghai, China – 12 Oct 2016
With openings in 42 markets, Paramount/Skydance’s latest Tom Cruise-starrer soldiered to $31M internationally. The follow-up to 2012’s action thriller saw a 28% increase globally with a $54M start, cuffing No. 1s in 20 offshore markets. It faced tough competition in China, however, where Mechanic: Resurrection and two local films nabbed the top three slots. The launch was $5.6M for 4th, despite the muscle of local companies Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group. Although Cruise excels in the Middle Kingdom in the Mission: Impossible franchise and other films (Rogue Nation last year grossed about $136M to become the biggest 2D release ever and Edge Of Tomorrow made $66M there in 2014), the Reacher character hasn’t resonated as strongly with Chinese audiences — the first film made $15M.
The indefatigable Cruise brought his star-wattage to China recently for a three day/three city tour (along with co-star Cobie Smulders), but Jason Statham-starrer Mechanic had an estimated $24M start per local reporting. Statham has the Expendables and Fast & Furious franchises behind him which are popular in the Middle Kingdom, and Mechanic: Resurrection has the added value of Michelle Yeoh in the cast and several South East Asian shooting locations.

In total, Jack Reacher made 63% of its box office overseas in 2012. Never Go Back opened bigger than that film in 30 markets. Outside China, the UK was tops with $3.3M for No. 2 at 517 cinemas and 24% above JR — Cruise and Smulders recently appeared on The Graham Norton Show there and walked the red carpet for the London premiere.

Russia was a No. 1 start with $1.9M at 49% over the previous film. Among other No. 1s were the UAE ($1.4M/+102%), Taiwan ($1.5M/+24%), Indonesia ($1.9M/+115%), Hong Kong ($949K/+120%), Malaysia ($896K/+190%), India (654K/+70%), Singapore ($634K/+85%) and the Netherlands ($519K/+26%).

Australia came in at $2M, -13% from JR, and France scored $2.8M, down 26%. Both of those markets opened during a holiday period on the first film.

The Ed Zwick-directed Never Go Back was made on a $60M budget, per Paramount, and still has major markets like Japan, Korea, Germany and Mexico to come. Cruise is due to visit both Japan and Korea ahead of those releases. Both markets were big on M:I5 and Edge Of Tomorrow with Korea particularly welcoming to the latter.

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