Tomas Jegeus, co-president of Fox Intl., admits that while the one-two punch of the Euro Cup soccer tourney and Olympic Games this summer dented overseas pic grosses more than ever before, neither event tripped up Fox Intl.’s journey as the first major to amass more than $2 billion at the international box office so far this year.
Fox’s market share-leading feat was fueled by the fourth installment in Fox’s blockbuster “Ice Age” franchise, “Continental Drift.” The toon bowed internationally nearly three weeks before it hit U.S. screens and has gone on to earn $680 million and counting.
“You can be a bit more bullish when it comes to a franchise like that,” Jegeus says, about dating the massively popular sequel. He says he says he never worried about the pic, even when it was going head-to-head against similarly targeted tentpoles.
“In some markets, we just knew we were going to win,” Jegeus says.
Thanks to “Drift,” it took Fox just a little over two months to collect the second half of its $2 billion overseas tally. The studio had reached $1 billion in early June, a month after Disney and Warner Bros.
Though “Drift” stands to surpass its predecessor, 2009’s “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” ($693 million), to become the highest-grossing animated film ever internationally, Jegeus says Fox benefited from more than just one star player this summer.
The studio topper, who shares duties with Fox Intl. co-prexy Paul Hanneman, spotlights other 2012 successes like “Prometheus,” which so far has reached almost $253 million, and the near-$280 million “Titanic” 3D re-release.
For “Prometheus,” Jegeus says the studio had modest expectations given the film’s more restrictive R rating, while “Titanic” 3D showed off the power of China, he says, where the conversion made a phenomenal $146 million. “Prometheus” similarly has been firing up crowds at the Chinese B.O. recently, despite direct local competition from “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
Jegeus describes China as a “brand-sensitive” market, which is perhaps why “Prometheus” — a prequel-of-sorts to “Alien” — and “Titanic” were able to click on the mainland.
In regions like Latin America and throughout most of Europe, “Continental Drift” went head-to-head with the summer’s Euro Cup (June 8-July 1), a risky move considering the widespread popularity of soccer in those places. The weather also was a major deterrent to box office this summer, according to Jegeus.
Jegeus acknowledges that the London-hosted Summer Olympics, which ran July 27 to Aug. 12, had more of a negative impact on international box office than the Olympics of past years. Traditionally, the popularity of the Games has centered around individual events, with much of the fortnight having little effect on the film biz.
But the European locale likely increased the event’s overall viewership across the Continent.
With the summer over, the biz looks forward to its usual crop of highly anticipated year-end offerings, which includes such tentpoles as Summit’s “Twilight” finale and Warner’s first “Hobbit” installment, “An Unexpected Journey.”
For Fox, Jegeus warns not to underestimate Liam Neeson starrer “Taken 2” (launching Oct. 5), based on early tracking figures. The sequel aims to build on overseas love for the first film, which became one of 2008’s biggest sleeper hits, raking in more than $226 million worldwide.
Jegeus is just as enthusiastic for Ang Lee’s holiday 3D offering “Life of Pi,” which kicks off in the U.S., Taiwan, India, Spain and Russia during late November. The film launches in most every other major overseas territory at around Christmas. Fox tops
int’l players this year
(in millions of $)1.Ice Age: Continental Drift*680.02.Titanic 3D287.63.Prometheus*242.34.Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked**135.85.This Means War102.4
*still in release
**2011 release; figure represents cume from Jan. 1, 2012 Winning lineup
international players this year
(in millions of $)1.Ice Age: Continental Drift*680.02.Titanic 3D287.63.Prometheus*252.84.Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked**135.85.This Means War102.4
*still in release
**2011 release; figure represents cume from Jan. 1, 2012