Annually, one of my favorite lists to write is the one where we figure out why sequels are made to movies that didn’t fare particularly well in America, mostly because it’s a much-needed reminder that, though United States still boasts the biggest box-office in the world, not everything is about us. Even the biggest movies each year owe much — or most — of their success to international box office. For instance, the second biggest movie of the year in the United States, Avengers: Infinity War, earned $2 billion worldwide. Only 33 percent of that came from America. The United States matters — and we matter a lot — but a film can succeed globally without succeeding in the United States.
In fact, here are ten examples of that from 2018:
Johnny English Strikes Again (Domestic: $4.3 million; International: $153 million) — There have been three Johnny English films and a Mr. Bean movie since 2003, and while none of them have ever fared particularly well in America (Mr. Bean’s Holiday is Rowan Atkinson’s biggest hit stateside, earning $33 million), Atkinson is a bizarrely huge box-office star overseas. In fact, no matter how poorly they fare in America, the Johnny English films — made relatively inexpensively ($25 million for Strikes Again) — always manage to muster around $160 million worldwide. While the UK expectedly is a big source of those grosses, Rowan Atkinson is actually apparently even bigger in China.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Domestic: $58 million; International: $230 million) — Like another YA film series, Divergent, the Maze Runner series has largely been an afterthought to America’s moviegoers. The first one earned $100 million back in 2014, but audiences quickly cooled as the YA adaptations went out of fashion. Not so, internationally, where the last two Maze Runner films earned $230 million, thanks largely to China and France, where Death Cure was the 13th biggest film of 2018.