Moviegoers make date with disaster film '2012'

Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:57pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disaster swept the world during the weekend as the apocalyptic movie "2012" registered the biggest opening for a non-franchise movie.

The latest calamity epic from "Independence Day" director Roland Emmerich sold $225 million worth of tickets globally, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday.

Moviegoers in the United States and Canada chipped in $65 million, at the high end of bullish industry forecasts.

The foreign tally of $160 million came from 105 countries, led by France with $17.2 million, Russia with $15.3 million and Emmerich's native Germany with $12.4 million. It opens in Japan next weekend.

Columbia, a unit of Sony Corp, said "2012" recorded the highest worldwide opening ever for an original film not based on an established franchise, brand or best-selling novel.

In overall worldwide terms, it ranks at No. 9, behind pictures from such franchises as "Harry Potter," "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars," as well as the adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code." The record of $394 million was set in July by "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

"2012," which cost about $200 million to make, uses the Mayan calendar and other end-of-days prophecies to depict the world's demise courtesy of a solar meltdown. Critics were predictably skeptical.

Columbia said the film received strong ratings from moviegoers in exit polling. Demographic data revealed that 45 percent of patrons were aged under 25.

The studio had been hoping for a worldwide opening in the $150 million range, said Rory Bruer, Columbia's president of worldwide distribution.   Continued...

<p>Cast member John Cusack arrives for the premiere of the film "2012" at Regal Cinemas LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>