Hollywood films continue to be globally dominant with overseas playing an increasingly big part of studio groses. But a number of local films found success in their home territories this year. Below is a look at the international box office trends and some of the local breakouts of 2011 as well as some insights into 2012:
As the Harry Potter era ends in Britain, local indies are vying to pick up the slack. Last year’s Oscar winner The King’s Speech brought in about $75 million, according to distrib Momentum and Ben Palmer’s adaptation of the TV teen comedy The Inbetweeners Movie, per Entertainment Film, took a healthy $70 million+. Overall, Warner Bros., spurred on by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, was the studio box office winner in the UK this year with a record £205.8 million in takings. While 2011 was a strong year overall for British films, 2012 will be a tough one. Not only will there be no Potter, the industry is also facing a big dent in its coffers thanks to competition from the summer Olympics and the European football championships.
Local films were a huge boon to the box office this year with 41.6% of the market share. The total box office was the highest seen in France since 1966. Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s crowd-pleasing Untouchable (for which the Weinstein Co has US distribution and English-language remake rights) opened on November 2 and as of the end of its 9th weekend was still going strong with about 16.7 million tickets for over $129 million, according to studio Gaumont. By the end of 2011, the film was less than 3.8 million tickets behind the country’s biggest French hit of all time, Welcome To The Sticks. Only Titanic sits above that pic. It’s not unusual for France to have a homegrown hit at the top of the charts, but the one-two punch of Untouchable and the year’s No. 2 film, Pathe’s Nothing To Declare, is nevertheless notable. As he did on Welcome To The Sticks, director and star Dany Boon does double duty on Nothing To Declare which has sold over 8 million tickets. It just debuted on pay-TV and with 2.1 million viewers gave Canal Plus its largest audience for a film since 2009 when Sticks garnered 2.6 million subscribers. Other local films faring well include Cannes Jury Prize winner Poliss, EuropaCorp’s Un Monstre A Paris and awards contender The Artist with about $13 million in sales. Warner Bros. will re-release the film in France this month on 200 screens to capitalize on expected Golden Globes glory.
Italy’s box office continued its trend of tight run-time comedies at the top of the charts. Gennaro Nunziante’s bumbling security officer comedy Che Bella Giornata (What A Beautiful Day) surpassed Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful as the territory’s biggest all-time grosser. With just under $60 million in receipts the Medusa release ruled a box office that included 2 other local pics in the top 5. Giulio Manfredonia’s comedy Qualunquemente (Whateverly) from Fandango took roughly $23 million while Paolo Genovese’s thirtysomething comedy Immaturi (The Immature) scored about $20 million in receipts for Medusa. Also in the top 10 was Fausto Brizzi’s sequel Femmine Contro Maschi (Women Vs Men) with $15 million in takings, according to Medusa.
Santiago Segura’s cringe-worthy detective Torrente is at the top of the charts this year with the 4th installment in the series. The pics are constant local winners with their particular brand of base Spanish humor. (New Line has been developing a US remake with Sacha Baron Cohen potentially starring.) But apart from Torrente 4’s roughly $29 million in box office this year, you’ve got to jump 30 or so films down to find another Spanish pic with favor amongst local moviegoers. Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In has sold just over $6 million worth of tickets, per Boxofficemojo figs. (Both films were released locally by Warner Bros.) Conventional wisdom holds the disturbing picture was too much of a departure for the mainstream, although excluding 2006’s Volver, the Spanish master’s films of late have not been box office burners. Harvard-set comedy Fuga De Cerebros 2 (Brain Drain 2), a Universal Pictures International Spain release, comes just after Almodovar. Rampant piracy has been an increasing drag on box office while Spanish producers have lately been making fewer films given a decrease in financing options.
A handful of German pics co-produced by local arms of the majors zinged at the box office this year including Til Schweiger’s Warner-produced romcom Kokowaah with about $43 million, according to Boxofficemojo while Fox tells me its locally-produced romantic comedy What A Man tallied up $17.7 million. Relationship comedy sequel Männerherzen… Und Die Ganz Ganz Große Liebe, Turkish immigrant story Almanya – Willkommen In Deutschland and Eine Ganz Heiße Nummer all added to a strong box office. Universal’s local comedy Rubbeldiekatz also had a successful debut in December.
Norwegian films had a great 2011 with the most local admissions in 36 years for nearly 25% market share, according to the Norwegian Film Institute. Morten Tyldum’s hot thriller Headhunters was the No.2 film overall (Magnolia has the US and Summit recently set Sacha Gervasi to adapt the novel upon which it’s based) while family film Twigson In Trouble was No.5.
ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE:
Belgium’s Bullhead, a big winner at the Austin Fantastic Fest this year, was a top choice for moviegoers at home with just under $4 million in takings. Michael R. Roskam’s drama, released by Kinepolis, is a revenge story that also screened in the Panorama section of Berlin in 2011. Bulgarian audiences fell for Love.net about a group of people looking for love from director Ilian Djevelekov and distributor Alexandra Films. Moviegoers in the Czech Republic were turned on by Jirí Vejdelek’s relationship comedy Muži V Nadìji which loosely translates to Hopeful Men.
Although Romanian films had a surge in the mid-00s with films like Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, Andrei Ujica’s The Autobiography Of Nicolas Ceausescu and Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu, Puiu’s latest, Aurora, is far down the list of homegrown films finding favor at cinemas. There are no Romanian films in the top ten this year as has been a recent trend despite their continuing inclusion on the fest circuit. In Croatia, Danijel Kušan’s Koko And The Ghosts earned $280,000 in 12 weeks of release to become one of the highest grossing local pics of the past decade, says producer Kinorama. The family film is based on a series of novels by the director’s father. Turkey, which traditionally leans towards its own fare carried on this year with comedy sequel Eyyvah Eyvah 2 followed by drama Love Just A Coincidence, both of which were released by UIP. Warner-released family drama Dedemin Insanlari also fared strongly.
According to Boxofficemojo, local top pics In the rest of Europe include Will Koopman’s comedy Gooische Vrouwen from Independent and Reinout Oerlemans’ historical epic Nova Zembla released by Benelux in Holland; Poland’s Listy Do M from ITI, comedy Och Karol 2 from Studio Interfilm, Jerzy Hoffman’s historical musical Battle Of Warsaw 1920 from Forum and sex comedy Baby Sa Jakies Inne from Kino S’Wiat; Svensk Film mystery Jägarna 2 with Peter Stormare in Sweden; Serbia’s Parada from Srdjan Dragojevic (which will play in Berlin next month) and Nikola Lezaic’s Tilva Ros. Finally, Russia’s Vysotskiy. Spasibo, Chto Zhivoy, a biography of singer Vladimir Vysotsky, made over $26 million and Yolki 2, the sequel to last year’s highest local grosser which Timur Bekmambetov and China’s Eva Jin are remaking, tallied up nearly $16 million.
Family pic Red Dog, starring Josh Lucas and Rachel Taylor, was the only local film to make a dent near the top of the chart Australia in 2011 with just over $20 million at the box office for Roadshow. A period of inauspicious years, despite the success of 2010’s Animal Kingdom and 2009’s Mao’s Last Dancer, should be offset by the arrival in 2012 of Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-set The Hobbit.
Japan’s biggest local title in 2011 was Toho’s animated Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (From Up On Poppy Hill) from Goro Miyazaki, son of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki with over $56 million. Despite a downturn at the overall box office in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, other Toho films including local comedy Once In A Blue Moon provided some solace selling over $49 million worth of tickets while SP: The Motion Picture Kakumei Hen, the second in a series adapted from the popular TV show, was also a big draw. (Japan figures from Boxofficemojo.)
In China, Zhang Yimou’s Christian Bale-starrer Flowers Of War has been burning up the box office since its release on Dec 16. According to a spokesperson for the film’s US distributor, it took over $69 million in 15 days in 2011 to become the 4th highest-grossing Chinese pic of all time. Chinese audiences have also been flocking to Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate 3D.
Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan audiences flocked to You Are The Apple Of My Eye (which Fox confirmed it released for $13 million in Taiwan and $8.1 million in Hong Kong), Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale, an action drama set during the Japanese rule of Taiwan and the erotic 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy which beat Avatar’s opening grosses with about $360,000 in one day in Hong Kong for distributor Newport. Filipino audiences soaked up Star Cinema’s drama No Other Woman and comedy Praybeyt Benjamin both starring the hot Derek Ramsay. Malaysia’s action pic KL Gangster was a winner in its home territory. Thailand, which has a healthy home market had a bevy of local films at the top of the box office chart including the 3rd and 4th installments of Chatrichalerm Yukol’s historical series King Naresuan, horror flick Ladda Land and comedies SuckSeed: Huay Khan Thep and 30+ Single On Sale. South Koreans were faithful to their homegrown product – especially dramas and actioners – with films like Sunny (which sold 4.5 million tickets) and The Last Weapon. Ifa Isfansyah’s teen romance Sang Penari (The Dancer) was big in Indonesia winning Best Picture at the Indonesian Film Festival as was Harris Nizam’s tearjerker Surat Kecil Untuk Tuhan (A Letter To God) based on the book about a young cancer victim.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE GLOBE:
After it had its world premiere there, Brazil opted to make Fox’s animated Rio its top film with the only local pic to come close Downtown Filmes’ José Alvarenga Jr-directed comedy Trap.com about a young man trying to clean up his reputation after an unfortunate evening. Imagem’s drama Little Surfer Girl, based on a true story, was able to ride on the notoriety of its subject.
In Lebanon, after the success of her 2007 hit Caramel, Nadine Labaki was back engaging audiences – especially females – with a story they can relate to in Pathé-backed Et Maintenant On Va Où? (Where Do We Go Now?). Pic is about a group of women of varying religions trying to maintain peace in their village.
In India, prolific local box office saw mistaken identity comedy Ready score $26 million while pics like thriller No One Killed Jessica ($7 million) and comedy Delhi Belly ($6 million) shook things up on the indie scene according to tracking service IBOS Network.