UPDATE: TUESDAY PM: Welcome to Deadline’s first dedicated international box office round-up, with me as your host. After last night’s snapshot (below), here’s a look at the past weekend and an overview of what’s going on at the turnstiles in various overseas territories. Feedback, as always, is appreciated:
Internationally, this weekend was down on the comparable frame last year when films like Skyfall, Rise Of The Guardians and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 were in the mix. The top 10 titles this weekend saw a drop to about $118M from the Thanksgiving period that scored abroad with $182.7M, according to industry data. The actual holiday isn’t a factor overseas, but it does bring big movies to market. Overall, some European territories are off – to varying degrees – versus the first 11 months of 2012, while Latin America and Asia remain hot spots. This weekend’s big pictures overseas continued to be Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which added $42.9M for a $340.6M cume and Disney’s animated Frozen which added an estimated $30.6M for an international total of $55.9M.
The place that’s highest on execs’ minds is China where “we’re all looking forward to a boom,” one tells me. Catching Fire and Warner Bros’ Gravity are still playing on the Mainland with respective cumes of $26.8M and $63.7M. But both films will taper off as the local industry ramps up a series of homegrown movies for the remainder of December. With quotas filled for 2013, Hollywood will wait until 2014 for the next debut which will be Universal’s Despicable Me 2 on January 10th. As the Chinese box office rolls along on its way to a potential $3.5B tally for 2013, the current top film is local 2D action-road trip pic No Man’s Land. Co-produced by DMG, it opened at No. 1 on December 3rd and won the week with $23.7M through Monday. It came just ahead of another local hit, The Four 2. The rest of the year will see a big push for local films as the territory continues an aim to up its local market share, which is currently at 55%.
Elsewhere in Asia, romantic comedy About Time had a strong No. 1 opening in Korea this weekend with $4M at 289 dates and 28% of the market. Director Richard Curtis has said this would be the last film he helms. It comes squarely 10 years after the movie he’s perhaps most associated with directing, Love Actually. About Time’s opening in Korea is double what that film did there. The low-budget time travel romcom with Rachel McAdams, Domnhall Gleeson and Bill Nighy has had pretty significant legs for Universal. It was first released in the UK in September and now has a cume of $48.3M. Summit’s Escape Plan – the actioner that teams Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger – has now muscled its way into 41 international markets, adding Korea this weekend for $925K and a No. 5 slot on 287 screens. Its international total is now $95.9M out of a worldwide gross of $120.5M. This was a slow weekend for local films in Korea despite the territory’s overall strength. Its box office growth in the first 11 months of the year is understood to be at about 7.6% and I’m told the homegrown market share could top out at 60%.
Box office is down slightly in Japan where Universal’s expensive 47 Ronin had a disappointing start. Local movies, as is often the case, are performing well with the animated Lupin III Vs Detective Conan making $6.29M on 329 screens in its first 3 days for the No. 1 spot, according to FilmBizAsia. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is still the biggest success story of the year with the overall No. 1 spot and a cume of about $120M. As I noted earlier, animation and adaptations are currently the biggest draws in Japan. A U.S. exec says, “We all mourn the days when a movie like Last Samurai could do $100 million. The new reality is if you can do up to $30 or maybe $50 million, you’re lucky.” Another Japan watcher recently told me that while Hollywood used to have as much as 70% of the market several years ago, the gap has narrowed with U.S. movies only taking about 34% in 2013. Japan’s next big Hollywood opening is Gravity on Friday, followed by Catching Fire on December 27th. After that, Escape Plan goes on January 10th and Thor: The Dark World will release on February 1st.
In India, where Universal is distributing Catching Fire, the film opened No. 1 with $698K at 559 dates. That outpaces the original film’s lifetime total of $610K in the country that is partial to its local cinema.
Closer to my perch in Western Europe, France especially has suffered this year with local movies losing market share and year-on-year admissions down 7.2%. The country usually has a handful of films in the top 10 by December 31st, but this year it will likely end up with only one (comedy Les Profs). That’s given Hollywood an edge, but even if the top film, Despicable Me 2, were stacked up against numbers for 2012, it would come in at No. 4. Catching Fire entered the market at No.1 on November 27th and now has $17.6M. Disney’s Frozen was released last Wednesday with an estimated $8.2M (including previews) for a No. 1 slot.
Meanwhile in the UK, box office is down 2%. That’s in part down to Skyfall having stacked the deck in the last quarter last year. The James Bond movie opened on October 26, 2012 and had already become the UK’s top-grossing film of all time by December 5th with over $150M. But an exec tells me folks continue to be “really pleased” with the UK. Frozen just opened at No. 1 in the territory with an estimated $7.4M. Catching Fire has trapped about $42.9M there since its November 21st release.
Germany’s got a handful of local hits including F*** You, Goethe, Warner Bros’ Kokowaah 2 and Fox’s Schlussmacher (The Break-Up Man). Despite that, box office is down about 4% year-on-year. In 2012, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Skyfall, French juggernaut The Intouchables and Ice Age 4 were market leaders. This year, the top film is still Django Unchained, which was released in January. Disney’s Frozen opened on November 28th and has now taken an estimated $14.5M, dropping a slight 5% this frame from its debut weekend. Catching Fire now has $31M in Germany, the film’s 2nd biggest international territory and nearly $10M more than the first Hunger Games installment (Catching Fire has now outpaced the initial movie in all major markets, btw). Carrie bowed in Germany this week via Sony Pictures International Releasing with about $1.3M; it had estimated openings in Brazil ($880K), France ($895K), and Spain ($980K).
After the 2012 success of Warner Bros’ Juan-Antonio Bayona tsunami drama The Impossible, box office in Spain is down about 17%. The local industry is suffering under the weight of funding cuts and tax increases – something Pedro Almodovar was vocal about at this weekend’s European Film Awards. But there was good news this weekend with Frozen notching a 24% increase over the opening weekend’s take. It’s holding at No. 1 there with an estimated $8M. Also in Spain, Fox’s The Counselor dropped just 19% for a cume that now stands at $3M. Escape Plan opened this weekend at No. 6 with an estimated $760K on 272 screens.
Russia is a different story. With the success of the 3D Stalingrad, which is now the most successful local film ever, the box office there has had a jolt and is now up more than 20%. Execs are bullish on the territory where Hollywood fare performs well. Sony’s Captain Phillips bowed there this weekend with an estimated $1.7M for the No. 2 spot.
BRAZIL AND CHILE:
In another part of the world, Last Vegas rolled the dice in Brazil this weekend and came up with a No. 2 opening and an estimated $900K at 303 locations. Paramount’s Bad Grandpa is still playing in Brazil and in its 2nd weekend, it had a slight drop of 34% and now has an estimated $1.1M total. For everyone from film & TV execs to football fans, Brazil is one of the quente spots right now. The box office is up an estimated 9.5% year-on-year. The top films hail from Hollywood, but next year could see movie attendance slow, at least in the summer months when World Cup mania will be at a fever pitch… Also in Latin America, a local comedy starring and directed and written by comedian and mimic Stefan Kramer, was a smash in its opening. Citizen Kramer, released Friday by 20th Century Fox Chile, scored the biggest debut of 2013 with $1.6M and had 73% of the market on opening day. It was also the country’s 5th highest opening ever. This is the sequel to last year’s mega-hit comedy Stefan Vs Kramer, in which the star played about 20 different roles. That film went on to become the highest grossing movie ever in Chile with $11.9M and was also handled by Fox.
Elsewhere, Bad Grandpa dropped a touch in its 2nd outing in Mexico and now has an estimated $1.4M. Captain Phillips has an estimated total of $1.9M in the territory with a small drop in its 2nd weekend.
Finally, Down Under, SPRI’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 opened stronger than the first installment with an estimated $1.7M in Oz and $215K in New Zealand. Kiwis will see The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug beginning December 12th, almost day-and-date with U.S. audiences as it bows December 13th in the States. The film from hometown director Peter Jackson was made in New Zealand and, as with the first Hobbit, the local market is whipped into a frenzy over its arrival. (That’s despite the fact that the premiere was held in Los Angeles instead of Wellington.) The first Hobbit grossed about $9.2M in New Zealand last year to end 2012 as the country’s top film. Neighboring Australia is getting David O Russell’s American Hustle this weekend, but will have to wait a bit longer for the rise of the dragon with Smaug going out on December 26th there. The film will hit about 40 international markets later this week. Also on deck in various international territories next weekend are 12 Years A Slave and Dallas Buyers Club.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: In September, Universal Pictures International crossed the $2B mark at the overseas box office for the first time in its 101-year existence. In keeping with that record performance, it could soon see animated sequel Despicable Me 2 break another record, becoming the highest-grossing film (animated or not) in Universal’s history. That’s because it recently secured a January 10th release date in China, the booming box office territory that is now the world’s second-largest market. China has been good to Universal; films like Les Misérables and Fast & Furious 6 were big hits there this year. Although the first Despicable Me was not released theatrically in China, local audiences are familiar with the Minions through VOD and DVD. China is the last international territory where DM2 will go out after making more than $551M abroad. Combined with the domestic cume of $367.2M, the worldwide total is now $918.7M. To reach the record goal of becoming the studio’s biggest release ever, surpassing Jurassic Park, it would need to make about $3M in China. That’s not a stretch.
But with the yin, sometimes comes the yang. Shifting territories to Japan, in what looks like a rare misstep for the studio, 47 Ronin — the pricey 3D samurai film starring Keanu Reeves and a Japanese cast – opened in its first territory on Friday and fared worse than expected. I understand the studio puts the production budget, after tax incentives, at $175M. Over the weekend, estimates for the film in China were $1.3M at 333 dates for a No. 3 spot behind two local pics. But the actuals told a different tale and came in with a gross of $1.05M in the No. 5 slot. It is still the top film from a major for the weekend in a territory that is notoriously keen on local pics. Insiders say the Japan result is “not a catastrophic hit” for the studio’s financial year with accounting adjustments having been anticipated. Although the result is an underperform, I’m cautioned that “Japan is the kind of market where opening weekend doesn’t necessarily forecast the rest of the film’s run.” The sun hasn’t set, in other words. The film rolls out in Singapore and Malaysia on December 19th, Indonesia the next day and has 15 more territories opening the last weekend of 2013, including the UK and Spain. It launches in U.S. on Christmas Day.
Japan can be a thorny territory. It lost its standing as the world’s No. 2 movie market when it was outpaced by China in 2012. And Japanese films have consistently been dominant at home since 2008, hitting a 47-year high of 65.7% in 2012. Tastes have changed over the years as moviegoers seek lighter fare. Among the films that are performing more strongly than 47 Ronin was Lupin vs. Conan, an animated TV series adaptation, the likes of which often have a built-in success factor. An exec in Japan told me this summer, “Almost every hit movie is related to TV.” Or they’re animated and franchise pics. That’s borne out by the fact that this year, of the top 10 films in Japan, only two are from Hollywood. One is animated sequel Monsters University and the other is Ted, the Universal pic that hails from Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane. Based on an 18th century Japanese legend, 47 Ronin skewed to older audiences.
More (and diverse) international box office to come…