You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Watchmen’ battle superhero bias

Marvel aims to boost comicbook pics overseas

Last week, comicbook giant Marvel said it was forming an international advisory board to boost the profile of its superheroes overseas.

Marvel’s announcement came on the heels of the day-and-date release of Watchmen,” adapted from the iconic graphic novel about a group of brooding and violent superheroes who aren’t as broadly known as characters like Batman, Superman and Spidey.

Watchmen” still easily led the sesh at the international B.O., grossing $28.6 million. Debut was considered solid, but not a home run. A big draw was director Zack Snyder, whose previous film “300” –loosely based on the ancient Spartan-Persian battle, was a smash hit overseas.

As a rule, superhero pics don’t receive the same love at the foreign box office that they do in North America. There are exceptions, of course, such as the “Spider-Man” franchise. Otherwise, superhero tentpoles usually gross more domestically — including “The Dark Knight” ($533.3 million vs. $468.5 million overseas).

“Watchmen” placed No. 1 in a number of territories, led by the U.K., where pic opened to $4.6 million. That’s half the opening gross of “300.”

In Germany, “Watchmen” came in No. 3, grossing $2 million. It was beat out by the launch of 20th Century Fox’s “Marley and Me” ($3 million) and “The Reader” ($2.9 million).

More than any other territory, Germany has come to epitomize the resistance that superhero pics can face at the foreign B.O. Take Paramount’s “Iron Man.” Film cumed $8.6 million in Germany, compared to $19.2 million in France, $12 million in Spain and $11 million in Italy. It’s a pattern repeated again and again.

International studio execs offer several possible reasons for the German phenomenon. Before the wall came down, East Germans didn’t have easy access to comicbooks. Box office observers will be watching carefully to see how “Watchmen” does in its second outing.

Coming in No. 2 behind “Watchmen” over the March 6-8 frame was Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire,” which grossed north of $13 million at the international box office for a cume of at least $110 million.

Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” placed No. 3, cuming a handy $11.6 million, and beating “Watchmen” in Spain and France. Eastwood is sometimes even more popular overseas than in the U.S. — “Changeling” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” grossed more abroad than at home.

“Torino” enjoyed the best bow for an Eastwood-helmed feature ever in Gaul, and was only off 21% in its second frame. In its first 10 days, pic has grossed $10.9 million in France.

Based on film’s initial results overseas, Warners is already predicting that “Torino” will become Eastwood’s highest grossing pic at the international box office, eclipsing the $127 million international total for “Million Dollar Baby.”

Bookers in Spain had upbeat expectations for “Torino,” but no one foresaw the level of business. “Torino” grossed $2.7 million off a moderate print count of 235. Per-location average of $11,421 was the best of any film since “Hancock’s” $12,231 in July 2008.

“A key factor was the announcement by Eastwood that this was his last performance in a movie,” one distrib noted.

Other notable performers at the foreign B.O. for the sesh included 20th Century Fox’s “Marley and Me,” which only now has begun making its major push abroad. Comedy came in No. 4 overall, grossing $8.2 million for a foreign cume of $33 million.

“The Reader” also continues to be a draw, placing No. 6 at the international B.O. Film grossed $5.1 million for a foreign cume of $20.5 million.

David Hayhurst in Paris, John Hopewell in Madrid and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

More Film

  • 'The Dirt' Review: A Mötley Crüe

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content