International box office boggles biz

Many tentpoles doing bigger business overseas

It’s been a topsy-turvy summer so far at the worldwide box office.

Hollywood studios have come to depend upon foreign coin for their franchises, with many tentpoles doing bigger business overseas than at the domestic B.O.

This summer has already seen more pronounced examples than usual.

Sony’s “Angels and Demons” is the latest striking example of a title that works much better overseas. The sequel to “The Da Vinci Code” has grossed $319 million at the international box office. That’s nearly $200 million more than the film’s $123.2 million domestic gross (through Sunday).

“Angels,” which reteams director Ron Howard with Tom Hanks, boasts a worldwide tally of $442.2 million, making it the first film of 2009 to jump the $400 million mark. “Da Vinci Code” grossed more than double its domestic take internationally.

McG’s reboot “Terminator: Salvation” is also finding more solace in international territories, earning far more internationally than in North America.

Pic, which Sony is distributing overseas, is still playing well abroad with $164.6 million, already surpassing its domestic take. In the U.S., where it is distribbed by Warner Bros., it’s grossed $113.9 million and probably won’t see much more theatrically.

“Terminator 4” should continue to see impressive business overseas this weekend, although competition looms next week with the day-and-date bow of Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Over the June 12-14 weekend, “Salvation” opened to $10.7 million in Japan, the biggest debut in the territory since “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” In its China launch the film grossed $9 million, one of the top openings of all time for a non-Chinese film in the territory.

In contrast, Paramount’s “Star Trek” has done significantly more business domestically, with $231.9 million vs. $116.8 million overseas.

Par expected the grosses to be lopsided, since the sci-fi franchise has never resonated with foreign auds and has a smaller fanbase abroad than in the U.S., although U.K. and German auds have their share of Trekkies.

Paramount said it considers the foreign run a success since its goal was to hit the $100 million mark internationally.

“Star Trek’s” foreign showing is double the $57.4 million grossed overseas by “Star Trek: First Contact,” previously the franchise’s top performer.

Domestically, “Star Trek” is the only film so far this summer to jump the $200 million mark.

Some pics seem to straddle the fence, grossing nearly the same abroad as in the U.S. Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has grossed $179.6 million internationally and $176.4 million domestically for a total of $356 million.

The studio’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” tickled foreign auds just a touch more than at home, with $179.9 million internationally and $143.5 million domestically for a worldwide tally of $319.4 million.