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.
When Horrible Bosses passed the $100 million worldwide gross mark recently, it became the eighth film in the last eight years to hit that milestone with Jennifer Aniston in a starring role. Right now, only a few actresses mean much at the box office, a list that includes Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl. Has Aniston quietly joined that group?
While Aniston hasn’t had to carry all of those films, her worldwide gross track record compares favorably to the other actresses over the same eight-year period. Aside from Horrible Bosses, Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty all passed the $100 million mark worldwide. Over the same corresponding period, only Jolie had that many cross the $100 million WW mark. I didn’t count animated films, but for Jolie I did include Beowulf, because she gave a performance that was converted to performance capture format. Jolie’s other films that passed $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: The Tourist, Salt, Wanted, Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alexander, and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel.
Roberts had six films cross $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: Eat Pray Love, Valentine’s Day, Charlie Wilson’s War, Ocean’s 12, Closer and Mona Lisa Smile. Earlier in her career, her films routinely became blockbusters, when she was clearly Hollywood’s top actress.
Streep, who’s in her 60s, has become as bankable as any female star this side of Jolie. She has had five films cross $100 million in worldwide grosses in the last eight years: It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Heigl had four of her films cross $100 million worldwide, all since her movie career was launched by 2007′s Knocked Up. Since that movie crossed $100 million WW, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Life As We Know It also passed the mark, and Killers barely missed.