It’s nearly official — the foreign box office has finished 2007 in stellar style, with a 9% increase in revenues to $9.42 billion for the Big Six studios.
The number could be even higher once Warner Bros. completes counting its coin. The studio finished far ahead of its rivals and had not finalized its results as of Jan. 2.
But even with a conservative estimate of $2.15 billion, it finished nearly half a billion dollars ahead of Disney as it closed out the year in style with another hit in “I Am Legend.”
The Will Smith actioner easily won the year’s final weekend, with $46 million and 5.5 million tickets sold in 25 markets. It then tacked on additional $9 million over the next two days for a $126 million foreign cume as of New Year’s Day.
“Legend” represented the type of title that often drove offshore biz to robust numbers throughout the year — an easy-to-understand concept (the last man on Earth) and a major star who’s recognized everywhere. Other key factors included recognizable franchise titles, surprising midrange pics that found offshore traction and the positive impact of the weak dollar.
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“Legend” looks likely to hit at least $250 million with openings in Australia, Germany, Italy and Mexico in coming weeks. It’s not a surprise, given Smith’s ability draw overseas grosses in a variety of genres, whether in a comedy such as “Hitch” (more than $190 million inter nationally) or drama such as “Pursuit of Happyness” ($141 million outside the U.S.).
Warner’s top pic was, not surprisingly, the fifth Harry Potter movie. At $645 million overseas, it trailed Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” by about $11 million. It also scored impressively in 2007 with “300” ($246 million), “Ocean’s Thirteen” ($194 million), “Blood Diamond” ($114 million) and “Beowulf ($108 million).
Disney closed out the year at $1.69 billion, edging Fox for second at $1.68 billion. Par followed at $1.59 billion, while Sony delivered $1.287 billion and Universal trailed at $1.03 billion — though the U performance was impressive for delivering a billion without any real summer tentpole other than the third “Bourne” pic.
The year also represented the first time that all six studios had cracked the billion- dollar milestone.
And there were still other riches at the box office in 2007 — such as “The Golden Compass,” which emphasized the disconnect between tastes in the U.S. and overseas. In the final weekend of 2007, the fantasy stayed stellar outside the U.S. with $34 million at 7,600 and had hit an astounding $202 million by Jan. 2 — more than triple its domestic cume.
Rival distribs estimate the final international cume for “Compass,” handled by a variety of foreign distribs due to New Line selling off the rights, should eventually hit $250 million. Even with the growth of the international market, that’s an outsize performance that could mean only 20% of the pic’s worldwide total will come from the United States.
Tentpoles generally generate 30% to 40% of their worldwide total from domestic audiences. Only a few films such as “The Da Vinci Code,” “Casino Royale” and “Ice Age: The Meltdown” bring in more than 70% from foreign markets.
2007 also saw “Stardust” join the 70% club, as Paramount’s summer-fall title salvaged a disappointing domestic run with $96 million overseas, compared with $38 million Stateside.
Disney’s 2007 international results came from mostly two impressive performances — the third iteration of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Ratatouille,” with $411 million, or more than double its domestic total. And the Mouse House ended the year on an upbeat note with strong numbers for “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” with $60 million after two weeks, and “Enchanted” with $111 million midway through its foreign run.
Fox scored with a wide variety of fare in 2007, with “The Simpsons Movie” its top foreign take at $342.6 million — the seventh-highest total of the year. That was followed by “Night at the Museum” with $262.4 million (along with about $60 million in 2006), “Die Hard 4.0” at $247.6 million and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” with $152.3 million.
Fox also scored in the final 2007 frame with “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem,” with $15.9 million and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” with $13.6 million for a cume of nearly $38 million. “Alvin” is showing decent traction overseas though not mirroring its spectacular domestic numbers.
Paramount’s “Bee Movie” continued to take advantage of its status as the only toon in the market, buzzing up $16.8 million for a foreign cume of $111 million. That helped cap an impressive year for Par’s foreign operations in its first guise as Paramount Pictures Intl. — created in the wake of Par’s UIP partnership breakup with Universal.
Par scored more than half its foreign take from a pair of pics from DreamWorks — “Shrek the Third,” taking in $475 million internationally, and Par/DreamWorks co-production “Transformers” at $388 million. It also saw a solid foreign perf from “The Heartbreak Kid” with $87.3 million.
Par finished the year with a pair of awards-season con tenders in their first foreign outings, both with $1.3 million at the end of the year — “No Country for Old Men” in its Australian opening and “The Kite Runner” in the U.K. and New Zealand.
Sony closed out the year with “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” with $1.5 million since Christmas. The studio made most of its foreign coin early, with “Spider-Man 3,” which cast a web of $555.4 million; “The Pursuit of Happyness” ($141 million); and “Ghost Rider” ($113 million). Its top late-year numbers came from “Resident Evil: Extinction” ($61 million plus $34 more in non-Sony markets) and “Surf’s Up” ($87 million).
Universal, which also launched its foreign arm this year as a separate entity, noted that its foreign gross was its best in six years. “American Gangster” shot down $6.6 million in 25 markets on the final 2007 weekend to raise its foreign cume to $62.6 million.
U’s top numbers came from “The Bourne Ultimatum” with $215 million, and “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” with $192 million. Comedies provided respectable results, led by “Evan Almighty ($73 million), “The Holiday” ($72 million, matching its 2006 total), “Knocked Up ($70 million), “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” ($65 million) and “Hot Fuzz” with $57 million.