Timothée Chalamet’s Wonka provided some much-needed sweetener at the weekend box office, where it placed No. 1 on the global chart in earning $43.2 million from its first 37 overseas markets.
That’s a promising start for the Christmas musical, which opens everywhere in North America on Dec. 16 as it continues to roll out across the globe. Tracking suggests the Warner Bros. movie will launch in the $40 million range domestically and then keep audiences entranced throughout the long holiday stretch.
Wonka is an origin tale about Willy Wonka, the iconic candy maker featured in Roald Dahl’s classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which spawned at least two previous Hollywood movies.
The new film, rated PG, has been a curiosity factor for months in regards to how it will go over with audiences.
In its early offshore debut, it outpaced a slew of recent family-friendly event pics, as well as musicals The Greatest Showman (2017) and Mary Poppins Returns (2018). Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, was the last Hollywood musical to work in a major way at the global box office with $434 million in ticket sales.
Wonka ranked No. 1 in 32 of the 37 markets where it debuted. Imax theaters contributed a sizeable $2.3 million of the total opening gross.
The U.K. — home of Dahl and Wonka director Paul King — led with $11.1 million to rank as Warners’ second-biggest opening of the year behind Barbie. In addition to the family titles mentioned above, Wonka opened ahead of such films as Paddington, The Little Mermaid and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny in the U.K. Results were also strong elsewhere in Europe, including Spain ($3.6 million) and Germany ($4.4 million).
The movie is also showing promise in Latin America, where family fare can be a boon for Hollywood studios. Following the U.K., Mexico was No. 2 among all markets with $11.1 million.
Wonka wasn’t the only Hollywood holiday event film debuting early offshore. Illumination and Universal’s original animated pic Migration opened to $6.5 million from its first 18 markets (it opens stateside on Nov. 22).
One market where both Wonka and Migration received a lump of coal was China, where they bombed with $3.2 million and $1 million, respectively.
In the U.S., tracking has been on the softer side for Migration amid an overall downturn at the box office in terms of animation family fare. If Migration indeed struggles to win over families, box office analysts say Wonka will certainly benefit.
Wonka won’t be the only Warners title on the Christmas marquee. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom swims into cinemas on Dec. 22, followed by the Oprah Winfrey-produced The Color Purple — also a musical — on Dec. 25.