There are a number of moving parts to the international box office this weekend with two new entries, and the second frame of last week’s champ, X-Men: Apocalypse. The latest from Disney, Alice Through The Looking Glass, hits more than 50 territories offshore, including China on Friday, while Universal/Legendary’s Warcraft boots up in 25 with France, Germany and Russia in the mix. XMA expands to Korea.
Alice Through The Looking Glass is going day-and-date across most territories (and the U.S.) which will rep 72% of the international market. The majors that are not opening include France (June 1), Japan (July 1), and Korea (September 8).
Looking Glass is looking at an offshore start in the $80M-$100M range with some putting it higher. Its live-action family fantasy comps include 2010’s Alice In Wonderland; 2013’s Oz, The Great And Powerful; 2014’s Maleficent; and 2015’s Cinderella.
The Mouse has been stirring all over the house in the past couple of months. It’s got 2016’s first billion-dollar grosser in Captain America: Civil War with $1.05B global as of Sunday, followed by Zootopia at $982.4M and The Jungle Book at $858.3M. Zootopia is still playing well in Japan and seeing week-on-week increases while Turkey is yet to release on June 10. It’s looking more possible it makes it to $1B by the time Judy Hopps calls it a day. Jungle Book, meanwhile, still has Korea and Japan to come. It should overtake Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice this weekend to become the No. 3 movie of the year worldwide behind Civil War and Zootopia.
In the same suite of markets where Alice is bowing this frame — and at current exchange rates — Oz lifted the curtain to $50M; Cinderella waltzed to $65M; Maleficent conjured $83M and the original Alice swallowed a $98M pill.
China will be a bit of a wild card. The first film did not release there, but it is a big market for star Johnny Depp — even 2014 misfire Transcendence made $20.3M there for its top offshore play. Meanwhile, branded Disney content has been doing bang-up business at the turnstiles and the looming June 16 opening of the Disney Shanghai Resort sold out quickly and has continued to make headlines.
There are a couple of variables from the first film, however, and an ultimate score under $1B would not be a disappointment. Tim Burton directed the original which went out pre-Easter in 2010 at a time when 3D was riding a new wave created by James Cameron’s Avatar a few months prior. The format is still a major draw for audiences in China and elsewhere, but it doesn’t have that shiny new-toy quality that it did at the time. The original run was a huge 77% 3D.
Exchange rates are also a key factor. To wit: Alice In Wonderland’s $691M overseas cume is $554M today. Maleficent, which is probably the other best comp given the release pattern, grossed a total $517M offshore in 2014 which is $401M today.
There’s competition in the market, too. While Warcraft will look to tap into the gearhead space, young girls are believed to be cozying up to X-Men: Apocalypse more so than previous installments (it could see a 45%-60% drop this weekend, although Korea should open big and China is yet to come). The family space, which Disney has owned of late with Zoo and TJB, will be looking for something new and a return to a familiar universe. The Memorial Day frame is a holiday in some offshore markets this year (notably the UK) while Looking Glass is nestled in between Disney’s other offerings — Civil War on the front side and Finding Dory on the back (June 16 is the start of overseas rollout). The aim would be continued play for Looking Glass throughout the Euro 2016 soccer tournament which kicks off in France on June 10 and runs to July 12 in a period where counterprogramming at cinemas is key.
The first film carried a reported $200M price tag and this one has come in lower at around $170M. The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted alum James Bobin has taken over the helm from Burton. Returning cast includes Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter. Rhys Ifans is new as is Sacha Baron Cohen who turns up for the first time, as Time. The voice cast includes Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall and the last performance of the late, great Alan Rickman.
The story sees Alice return to the whimsical world of Underland where she must save the Mad Hatter who has lost his Muchness. Alice sets off to borrow the Chronosphere, a metallic globe inside the chamber of the Grand Clock which powers all time. Returning to the past, she comes across friends – and enemies – at different points in their lives, and embarks on a perilous race to save the Hatter before time runs out. Linda Woolverton wrote the script based on the Lewis Carroll characters. Producers are Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd and Burton with John G Scotti serving as executive producer.
The family fantasy genre has been well-served by Disney in each of the past few years, although none of the films has reached the heights of the first Alice. The Jungle Book, which is a different kind of spectacle, is giving it a run for its money. It makes more sense to look at Maleficent which topped out at $759M global, but also had mega-star Angelina Jolie. Japan was its biggest market at $63.3M, followed by China at $47.7M and Mexico with $46.2M. Conversely, the original Alice never opened in China. Its top play was Japan with a staggering $134M; partly off the back of Depp’s popularity.
As for getting the stars out, Depp recently appeared on The Graham Norton Show in the UK — an increasingly important promotional couch on which he was seated with X-Men: Apocalypse’s Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy. There was also a big premiere event in London.
Warcraft, meanwhile, will not hit the UK this weekend, nor China — the world’s biggest gaming market — but is going to France, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia and others. Directed by Duncan Jones, the ambitious adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s video game juggernaut stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster and Dominic Cooper — and also features Chinese heartthrob Daniel Wu who was in last year’s hit Go Away Mr Tumor. He’ll act as a particular draw at Middle Kingdom turnstiles when the film gets there on June 8 in a rare pre-U.S. release.
Warcraft is looking at a potential $20M+ opening in its suite of markets this weekend. Jones and the actors have been doing press in LA and have been on the road. The film’s full title is Warcraft: The Beginning which would point to a franchise launch. It will remain to be seen how that plays out.
The Legendary Pictures movie has Chinese money in it via Tencent which said it had made an equity investment back in September. At the same time, Wanda said it would work with the two companies and use its network to promote and market the film. World Of Warcraft has long been popular among the huge Chinese gaming community and the film adaptation had a major marketing push on December 31 at Joycity in Chengdu. When Warcraft arrives in the Middle Kingdom it will be five days into the run of X: Men Apocalypse; Alice Through The Looking Glass will have played for nearly two weeks.
Comps on Warcraft look to be Lara Croft: Tombraider which cumed $143.5M overseas and $275M global; and 300 at $245.5M offshore and $456M worldwide. Both featured leads who are now much better known than they were at the time but were already rising.