The 2006 Oscar bounce looks to be mild at best in overseas markets.
Most of the big winners from the March 5 Academy Awards have already played out their runs in foreign territories — most notably Best Picture winner “Crash.” Still, “Brokeback Mountain,” “Walk the Line,” “Syriana” and “Capote” all showed they had some gas left in their tanks overseas in the post-Oscar weekend.
But, lacking a mass-appeal title, prospects pale compared with the 2005 post-Oscar period, when “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Aviator” cashed in big time in foreign markets. After last year’s Oscars, picture-winner “Baby” grossed close to $100 million and “The Aviator” took in well over half its $120 million overseas take.
By contrast, “Crash” cashed in significantly in a single market — Spain, where the ensemble drama jumped from 15th to second place over the weekend with more than $1 million at 170 playdates, narrowly losing out on the top slot to “The Pink Panther.” The numbers represent a 279% hike over the previous frame, and pushed the pic’s nine-week Spanish cume to $6.3 million — second best of any foreign market — with hopes for decent future grosses.
” ‘Crash’ has had considerable impact in urban theaters,” one Spanish booker notes. “Now it’s getting some traction in bigger suburban multiplexes.”
In Japan, distrib Movie Eye has seen solid biz for “Crash” at 50 screens since its Oscar win, and is aiming for a final cume of more than $4 million. “The best picture prize means something special,” one rep says.
But the “Crash” re-release generated only moderate biz at best. In Italy, results looked middling, with $263,959 at 122 sites to lift Italo cume past $2.5 million.
Results were far less impressive in the U.K., where “Crash” is available on DVD, with $71,973 at 65 engagements. The German re-release was modest, with $51,088 at 56 as was Holland, with $43,849 at 22.
“Crash” has totaled better than $30 million overseas, with the U.K. its top market, with $10.3 million.
“Brokeback Mountain” has fared far better than “Crash” in overseas markets, with foreign cume hitting $67.4 million as of March 13.
Cowboy drama launched solidly in Germany, one of its last major markets, with $1.7 million at 152 sites. “It’s a film that everyone is talking about and it’s attracting a wide range of viewers,” one Teuton exhibitor enthuses.
“Syriana” showed some decent holds in the wake of George Clooney’s supporting actor Oscar win, such as a 17% decline in the U.K., 20% in Oz and 28% in Germany. Blightly bookers were impressed, due to heavier-than-usual competition among adult-themed pics.
But “Syriana” biz skidded 40% in Italy, 41% in Spain and 53% in France. A Spanish booker noted the complicated plot made the pic a tough sell, and added that the political bent wasn’t particularly helpful, since Europeans are more accustomed than Americans to viewing such fare.
Thanks to Reese Witherspoon’s widely anticipated Oscar, “Walk the Line” continued to perform well in markets with English speakers, as German takings edged up 4%, U.K. biz stayed unchanged and Oz grosses dropped only 10%. In the U.K., where final cume will probably top $16 million, exhibitors say the pairing of Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix is attracting younger audiences than “Ray” pulled in last year.
German cume on “Walk” is nearing $9 million after six weeks, thanks to the enduring popularity of the biopic’s subject. “Johnny Cash is beloved here,” one booker notes.
“Capote” clearly benefited from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar win, though Sony’s kept the biopic in limited release, with $2.5 million at about 600 playdates in 34 markets. Best perf came in France, with a launch of $659,200 at 78 sites for a 10th place finish — by far the top per-screen average in the top 10.
Other biz remained less than sizzling with “The Pink Panther” emerging as the top performer over the weekend, with about $10 million on more than 3,000 screens. Top perf for the laffer came in its German launch, with $2 million at 540, but “Panther” was beaten by the soph sesh of local soccer comedy “Wild Bunch 3.”
“The Pink Panther” has won three straight weekends in Spain, where one booker notes, “It was lucky with its release date, which made it an alternative choice to the seriousness and concerns of the art movies.”
BVI’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” continued to conjure up foreign coin in its last two major markets — a $2.3 million launch in China and a $5.5 million soph sesh in Japan. “Narnia” became the 19th pic to cross the $400 million mark in international grosses.
Fox’s day and date launch of “The Hills Have Eyes” led in the U.K. with $1.95 million — slightly less than hoped due to the government’s 18 certificate, limiting the horror remake to those 18 and over.
In Italy, exhibitors expressed enthusiasm that the top two entries are Italo films, accounting for 60% of weekend biz — “Il Mio Migliore Nemico” (My Best Enemy) and “Notte Prima degli Esami” (Night Before Exams). The latter, helmed by tyro director Fausto Brizzi, has cumed better than $9 million in four weeks, thanks to its covering a simple subject all Italians face: the dreaded high school final exam.
Warner’s “Firewall” remained lukewarm in offshore markets, though its second frame declined by only 19%, to lead in Mexico, with $680,518 at 350. That topped local entry “Sexo, Amor y Otro Perversiones,” a series of eight shorts by different directors, by about $130,000 but the latter generated the strongest opening weekend for a domestic film since Luis Mandoki’s “Voces Inocentes,” which bowed in January 2005.
The performance by “Sexo” surprised indie distrib Decine’s expectations, and exhibitors credited the title — plus a titillating trailer that promised more shock than the pic delivers — for building buzz.
(Sheri Jennings in Rome, Mark Schilling in Tokyo, Ed Meza in Berlin, Esther de Prado in Madrid, Michael O’Boyle in Mexico City and Archie Thomas in London contributed to this report.)