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

  • John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’

    John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’ Actors for Horror Pic ‘Lair’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Hannah, Corey Johnson and Oded Fehr will star in “Lair,” billed as a socially conscious horror movie about an LGBT family embroiled in one man’s attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural. The trio all appeared in the successful franchise “The Mummy,” and their new picture goes into production later this year. Katarina [...]

  • Loving Vincent Animation Oscars

    Adult Audience Animation: Cannes Panel Talks Big-Screen Strategy

    CANNES–A panel of leading animation industry executives gathered during the Cannes Film Market on Sunday to shed light on their strategies for the theatrical release of adult-oriented animated features. It was a timely conversation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Five of the 28 animated projects in the Marché du Film are adult audience-focused, including [...]

  • Lea Drucker poses with the Best

    French Filmmaker Axelle Ropert Readies 'Petite Solange' With MK2 Films (EXCLUSIVE)

    French writer/director Axelle Ropert is set to direct “Petite Solange,” a film that will star Léa Drucker and Philippe Katerine, who won the best acting nods at this year’s Cesar Awards for their performances in “Custody” and “Sink or Swim,” respectively. MK2 films will handle international sales. Haut et Court has acquired rights for French [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • Gullane Taps The Match Factory, Bitters

    Gullane Taps Match Factory, Bitters End for Karim Ainouz’s ‘Neon River’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gullane, the Brazilian producer of Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition player “The Traitor,” has linked with production partners for anticipated projects by two of Brazil’s highest-profile auteurs: Karim Ainouz and Fernando Coimbra. In further news, Luiz Bolognesi, writer-director of Annecy winner “Rio 2096,” is leading “Senna,” Gullane’s biggest movie project to date, a live-action biopic of [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Feature Documentary ‘Untouchable’ Bought by Hulu (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hulu has snagged the U.S. rights to “Untouchable,” the feature doc about disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, in a seven-figure deal, Variety has learned. The film, directed by Ursula Macfarlane, had its premiere at Sundance. It offers the inside track on the rise of Weinstein and his subsequent fall, amid allegations in the U.S. and Europe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content