'Compass,' 'Vegas' among rebounders overseas
When it comes to Hollywood’s films, foreign moviegoers are continuing to confound expectations.Once an afterthought, foreign grosses hit $17.1 billion last year, compared with $9.6 billion domestically, according to the MPAA. English-speaking markets usually see similar performances to the U.S., with Australia usually closest to the domestic number by a ratio of 1-to-10. But most international audiences aren’t necessarily in sync with their Stateside counterparts — as evidenced by these recent developments: n Bad reviews really don’t matter overseas, but action and international stars and setting are always selling points. “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” has already grossed $230 million overseas without even opening in China; in the United States, the third “Mummy” still hasn’t topped $100 million. n Fantasy rules overseas. “The Golden Compass” underperformed domestically ($70 million) but was a big hit ($296 million) overseas, mirroring the performances of “Eragon,” “Bridge to Terabithia,” and “Stardust.” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” didn’t amaze domestically with $140 million but will double that number outside the U.S. n Raunchy comedies don’t usually connect overseas. “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” didn’t even get half their domestic grosses overseas; “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” has totaled $39 million outside the U.S.; distribs are waiting until the fall in most markets for “Tropic Thunder” and “Pineapple Express.”
- But raunchy comedies can connect overseas if they have enough romance and recognizability. Case in point — “What Happens in Vegas” has been the second-biggest comedy this year outside the United States (after “Sex and the City”) with nearly $140 million. Ben Stiller’s “The Heartbreak Kid” was a big disappointment domestically but salvaged itself with a respectable run overseas, where it took in over 70% of its $128 million worldwide gross.