There’s always been a few trademark examples of differences between US and global audiences when it comes to tastes in American studio films.
In terms of the biggest films of all time, there’s a general consistency that whatever it earned at the US box-office it makes 1.5-2X that amount in foreign revenue. That estimate holds true for film series like “The Lord of the Rings”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Harry Potter”, “Jurassic Park,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Matrix” and many of the Pixar films.
Yet there are always some fascinating exemptions to the rule. Superhero movies are lucky if they earn half as much globally as they do domestically, Judd Apatow’s movies barely do any business overseas, and Jason Bourne fares a decent margin better States-side.
On the flipside historical dramas, disaster movies, James Bond films, and the works of Will Smith often do significantly better globally – sometimes three times as much or more.
Last year films like “Mamma Mia!” ($144M domestic vs. $458M foreign), “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” ($102M domestic vs. $298M foreign), “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” ($180M domestic vs. $422M foreign), “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” ($141M domestic vs. $278M foreign), and “Kung Fu Panda” ($215M domestic vs. $416M foreign) demonstrated the big differences of blockbuster fare in terms of foreign tally.
This year is no different with some notable discrepancies already appearing thanks to the often simultaneous global launches of many titles these days.
The most notable discrepancy one way is “Star Trek”, J.J. Abrams reboot of the sci-fi franchise has scored $233M so far domestically but only half that internationally ($118M). That global number is impressive as its double the highest gross of a previous Trek film (1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact”) but shows the franchise has yet to really breakthrough outside the US.
Others are more expected such as Kevin James comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (146M domestic vs. $34M overseas), Liam Neeson kidnap thriller “Taken” ($145M domestic vs. $77M overseas), “Race to Witch Mountain” ($66M domestic vs. $33M overseas), and the “Friday the 13th” remake ($65M domestic vs. $25M overseas).
On the flipside the Da Vinci Code sequel “Angels and Demons” has pulled in only a so-so domestic cume of $124M, but has raked in a whopping $316M overseas making it easily the biggest global earner of the year thus far.
The panned “Terminator Salvation” has crawled to just $115M domestic, but is already at $164M globally and it didn’t start opening outside the US until two weeks ago with plenty of territories still yet to receive it.
The oddest anomaly though is the ‘Wolverine’ film which has achieved the rare feat for a comic book film of doing almost equal business domestically as it has globally ($176M domestic vs. $179M globally).