The makers of the hit toon franchise Ice Age have another winner on their hands, and Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha a tribute to his home town’s natural beauty and upbeat lifestyle. Twentieth Century Fox numbers show its newest 3D animation feature Rio flew into the international marketplace with a total estimated box office cume of $55M from 11,612 screens in 72 countries. The 6,654 3D screens (or 57% of screens) contributed 71% of the total opening weekend box office. Opening outside of school holidays almost everywhere, Rio — about a domesticated Macaw from Brazil living in Minnesota who can’t fly but travels overseas — took the #1 ranking in nearly every market, with several openings that were the biggest in their markets to date this year. Fox International co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus commented: “This is a fantastic start for a new franchise. With consistently stellar reviews and excellent word-of-mouth around the world –- as well as no significant family competition ahead — we are well established to take advantage of the school holidays which begin in the coming weeks.” (UK and Australia holidays begin this week).

Rio will open next weekend in 19 additional markets including France, Belgium and Italy, and on April 15 in the US. When Rio began to hit overseas and showed tremendous strength, it swamped Universal’s Hop overseas. So this is shaping up as a worldwide battle between the two kid films for the Easter holidays. Last weekend, Hop got off to a $7M start day and date in 26 foreign territories. This weekend, Hop grossed an estimated $5.9M in 32 territories for a total $15.1M. Pic still has 27 territories to open. Rio‘s world premiere took place in Rio De Janeiro on March 22. That same day, Fox and Rovio launched the much-hyped “Angry Birds Rio” app. The toon also made Super Bowl commercial history when the 30-second Rio commercial became the first ever to air with an embedded code. That code directed them to a special level and to a Rio sweepstakes.

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