EXCLUSIVE: Downton Abbey, the movie, began offshore rollout this week in 17 markets including the UK where the film had its world premiere on Monday. The big screen transfer of the award-winning and game-changing period drama is off to a strong start in key hubs. The weekend is estimated at $12.5M.
Currently, the Focus/Universal/Carnival Films production from the pen of Julian Fellowes is tracking ahead of The Kings’s Speech (+61%), Darkest Hour (+64%) and The Favourite (+75%) in like-for-like markets, perhaps giving Lady Mary cause to raise a perfectly-sculpted eyebrow.
In the UK, the Michael Engler-directed return to all things Crawley is driving to the No. 1 spot this weekend, with an anticipated $7M frame. It is at 732 locations and on 1,500 screens. The British launch is estimated to be ahead of Murder On The Orient Express (+20%), Absolutely Fabulous (+47%), Darkest Hour (+48%) and Rocketman (+51%).
In Australia, Downton is duking it out with It Chapter Two for the top slot at around $2M, and is tracking ahead of The Inbetweeners (+11%), Absolutely Fabulous (+14%) and Victoria And Abdul (+68%).
There have also been strong starts in the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and Norway.
Early scores from Rotten Tomatoes are 81% fresh with UK reviewers tending to agree the film is a warm hug from favorite characters with a giant scale and intricate detail not seen on TV. At the London premiere, any time Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess delivered a trademark zinger it lit up the room. However, newcomers to the series (if there are any for one of the biggest global phenomena ever) should also ease in easily. The difficulty will be in drawing that unschooled audience.
We will have a full update on Sunday, while North America releases next weekend. As of two weeks ago, Downton was on fire in pre-sales ahead of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!. NBC and Focus are teaming on Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event one-hour special set to air a day before the extravaganza hits theaters Stateside.
Next session overseas also notably adds Germany which should see a solid serving; France opens September 25. There are also several other international markets to come.