Movies

A Bunch Of American Box-Office Disappointments Were Global Hits In 2016


When it comes to the box office, America is not the center of the world anymore. Movies are a global business now, and while we still generate around 30 percent of the worldwide entertainment revenue (thanks to Netflix), China is now running toe-to-toe with us when it comes to box-office revenue. In fact, in the first quarter of 2016, they bested us, thanks to a film called The Mermaid (Mei ren yu), which grossed more in China ($550 million) than any film grossed in America in 2016.

It’s why we are going to continue seeing co-productions with other countries, like The Great Wall directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Matt Damon, which had a $60 million opening weekend in China last month. Even if the film is a relative disappointment in America when it opens in February, worldwide totals will ultimately make it a smash hit, whitewashing claims in America notwithstanding.

In other words, a movie doesn’t have to be a hit in America to still make a sizable profit. Here’s ten examples of movies that managed to do well globally despite being disappointments in America.

London Has Fallen ($62 million domestic; $202 million worldwide)

Those wondering why the modestly performing Olympus Has Fallen ($98 million domestic on a $70 million budget) was given an inexplicable sequel need look no further than China, where the miserably reviewed London Has Fallen racked up a whopping $52 million, only $10 million short of the domestic gross and considerably more than the $15 million the movie made in the nation of the film’s setting, the United Kingdom. What’s even more remarkable about the $52 million take in China is that the original Olympus Has Fallen only made $6 million in China, which either means that Olympus gained some cult following on home video or China is much more interested in seeing London fall than the White House.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ($87 million domestic; $284 million worldwide)

Tim Burton is to directors what Tom Cruise is to actors globally: Past their prime to American audiences, but still doing exceptionally well overseas. In fact, the last time a Tim Burton movie did better in America than in the rest of the world was 2003’s Big Fish. Miss Peregrine also owes much of its international success to France ($20 million), home to star Eva Green; the UK ($15 million), where the other film’s star Asa Butterfield is from; and Russia ($18 million), where it was the 13th highest-grossing film of the year.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them ($226 million domestic; $778 million worldwide)

It’s hard to call a $226 million haul in America a disappointment, but after the film’s $75 million opening weekend, many were suggesting that Fantastic Beasts might not make enough to warrant its planned four sequels. After all, it ultimately finished with $20 million less than the lowest-grossing Harry Potter movie, 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The $550 million the film made overseas, however, ensured that the planned franchise would go forward. Much of that success can be attributed to China ($84 million), the UK ($62 million) and Japan ($47 million).

X-Men: Apocalypse ($155 million domestic; $544 million worldwide)

The $155 million domestic take of Apocalypse was a marked drop from the previous installment in the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past, which earned $228 million in America. The poor reviews didn’t help the film here, but the X-Men series is apparently critic proof overseas, where it put up an impressive $388 million, equal to the domestic haul of the American gross of the last two X-Men films combined. Where does the X-Men franchise play best? China, where Apocalypse earned $120 million, and Brazil where it’s $20 million gross made it the 9th biggest film in that country in 2016.

Independence Day: Resurgence ($103 million domestic; $389 million worldwide)

The meager $103 million Resurgence earned in America must have been a huge disappointment for Fox after the original earned $306 million stateside, especially since the second one cost more than twice as much as the first (and still couldn’t afford Will Smith). Nearly $400 million worldwide, however, kept the film — which cost $165 million to make — in the black. China and its $75 million addition once again saved what could have been a huge box-office bomb.

Ice Age: Collision Course ($64 million domestic; $408 million worldwide)

The anemic $64 million gross stateside (on a $105 million budget) seemed to spell the end of the line for Ice Age franchise, after it earned more than $100 million less than its predecessor, 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift. However, the rest of the world — where 85 percent of the movie’s gross came from — salvaged the film and may give the series a shot at one more entry. Where are all the Scrat fans internationally? France, Germany, Brazil and especially China ($66 million), where it out-performed the domestic take of the film.

Alice Through the Looking Glass ($77 million domestic; $222 million worldwide)

Here in America, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland was an afterthought, especially compared to the $334 million the original made in the United States. It was merely another in a string of misfires for Johnny Depp in America, but Depp remains popular worldwide, where even Mortdecai quadrupled its American take. It’s yet another instance where China ($55 million) improved its box-office take significantly, making Through the Looking Glass a slightly less disappointing sequel financially.

Now You See Me 2 ($65 million domestic; $335 million worldwide)

The original Now You See Me was a huge sleeper hit back in 2013, earning $117 in America. The sequel, however, fell flat and earned $50 million less. However, Now You See Me 2 outperformed the original internationally, thanks again to its whopping $97 million gross in China. In fact, the film performed so well in China that a China-based spin-off with Chinese characters is tentatively being planned.

Inferno ($34 million domestic; $219 worldwide)

Both Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons had significantly larger opening weekends than the entire run of Inferno here in America, and the $34 million take stateside didn’t even cover half of Inferno’s production budget. However, the film got 85 percent of its overall gross internationally, where it performed particularly well in China, Germany, the UK and Brazil. However, even its worldwide grosses were a fraction of what the first two made overseas.

Bridget Jones’s Baby ($24 million domestic; $211 million worldwide)

The third Bridget Jones movie barely put a dent in the American box office. In fact, it was only the 95th highest-grossing film of the year, earning a little more than a third of what the original made stateside ($71 million). However, the comedy with a $35 million price tag was more than redeemed by its international grosses, where it doubled its American take in the UK with $60 million. In fact, it was the fourth highest-grossing film of the year in England, which may mean Bridget Jones: The Parenting Years may yet become a reality.

Warcraft ($47 million domestic; $433 million worldwide)

Fully 90 percent of Warcraft’s overall take came from foreign countries, and most of that came from China, where the film earned $220 million, becoming the third highest-grossing film in China last year. In fact, the film — seen as a huge flop in America — may yet have a sequel. There has been speculation, however, that a sequel would be not only geared toward Chinese audiences, but open in only China. If so, it will need to reduce its $160 million price tag substantially. The studio may also want to consider expanding it to Russia, where Warcraft was that country’s seventh highest-grossing film of last year.

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