While the United States adds perks to the movie theater experience in order to lure audiences away from Netflix, much of the rest of the world continues to go to theaters in huge numbers. In fact, no film made more in any single country in 2017 than a film called Wolf Warrior 2, a Chinese action filmed directed by and starring Wu Jing, as well as Frank Grillo, who can now boast that he starred in a film that earned more money than any Will Smith film ever. Wolf Warrior 2 made $854 million in China, a country where not that long ago some moviegoers had to bring their own stools in order to sit. The film made only $22 million in the rest of the world, including only $2 million in America. With a production budget of only $30 million, however, it didn’t need the American dollar to turn a profit.
That has also become the case for a lot of American films, especially big-budget sequels and reboots originally engineered to appeal to American moviegoers but which attracted a growing international audience, even as North American moviegoers abandon long-beloved franchises.
Here are ten films that disappointed in America, but still managed to make a pretty penny in the Asian, European, and Australian markets, often enough to extend franchises that have been languishing in the United States.
The Great Wall (Domestic: $45 million; International: $289 million)
Co-produced by an American studio and a Chinese studio, The Great Wall was designed to appeal to both countries. It features an A-list American star in Matt Damon and an A-list Chinese director in Zhang Yimou. It didn’t work out so well in America. Matt Damon didn’t hold up his end of the bargain Stateside, but Zhang managed to bring in an impressive $170 million from China, enough to make it the 8th biggest film of 2016. Clearly, China doesn’t need America’s help — or Matt Damon’s — to churn out a blockbuster. They should have saved their money and hired Frank Grillo, instead.