Nobody treasures a trend more than Hollywood and there’s one occurring right now that is a drastic change to the way things normally run here in Los Angeles. A majority of the summer blockbusters will be seen by overseas audiences before a single American viewer has a chance to witness Tinsel Town’s majesty. Summer movie season is clearly upon us and it is by far the most profitable time of the year for filmmakers. In the past, studios opened their tent pole films here with a lavish New York or LA premiere, but lately, they are looking to foreign markets to debut their wares. Why?
The trend began with the blockbuster that is The Avengers. The film opened in Europe and other foreign territories over a week before Marvel’s American fan base got its first glance. Two weekends later, Peter Berg’s Battleship opened in the U.S. and did OK with its second place box office finish. Yet, the film based on the Hasbro board game had already banked over $250 million in foreign markets. Sure, we get Men in Black 3 first, but the following two weekends all feature films premiering in the U.S. that international audiences will have seen first.
Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus will both have been unveiled across Europe before they land in America on June 1 and June 8 respectively.
Now, with the case of Battleship, it is clear that Universal was worried that the film would not track well in the States. By banking so much box office buck already, the series has all but guaranteed a sequel, despite the fact it has only made $25 million in its first weekend of release stateside. We actually could go back to Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin last fall and see the same method to a studio’s madness. Tintin earned $296.4 million overseas as opposed to the $77 million it made here. Think they’ll be a second Tintin, even though the film didn’t top the coveted $100 million mark in America? Bet on it. Same thing is true for Battleship. Even the widely criticized John Carter managed to earn just over $200 million overseas, versus the flop worthy moniker that comes with banking $72 million in the U.S.
But what about Snow White and Prometheus? Those both have crazy good buzz as they set to premiere here in America. Both films were filmed across Europe and perhaps it’s a way to pay homage to the film production’s hosts. Perhaps… but it truthfully has much more to do with the changing playing field of American versus foreign audiences and how much that scale has tipped in the last several years.
The 50 states and much of North America proper used to account for a majority of the earning potential for a Hollywood film. Not so anymore as foreign box office earnings have far exceeded those of domestic and that trend is one that is not likely to change. Even more markets are opening to U.S. movie studios, most notably China with the deal that Iron Man 3 struck with the nation that is famously shy of American film fare.