There are some notable differences between the Top 100 chart of films at the international box office and the corresponding domestic list. Among them, there’s only one crossover in the Top 5: Transformers: Age Of Extinction, which was the No. 1-grossing film abroad with $845.3M versus its position at No. 5 domestically with $245.4M. Pulling the $301M China gross out of TAOE’s overseas haul, it still doubled the U.S. cume.
But an apples-to-apples comparison isn’t really the goal – it’s still the biggest, but North America is one market and most Hollywood films are distributed in 70+ offshore with each varying in weight. Nevertheless, it’s enlightening to look at how the globe embraced some movies differently simply by ranking (and bearing in mind that some of the top titles on each list have yet to fully fill out their international footprints).
The domestic No. 1, Guardians Of The Galaxy – so beloved it has a WGA nomination – came in at No. 11 overseas with $440.7M, about $107M more than in North America which is almost equal to its China take. The Lego Movie, the domestic No. 4, is all the way down at No. 22 in the international chart after releasing in 53 markets. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 also falls outside the international Top 10, as does Big Hero 6, both of which are still on release and have China yet to come.
Subbing for those films on the overseas list are Frozen, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, Interstellar and How To Train Your Dragon 2. Frozen notably appears thanks to Japan, where it made $250M and stayed the No. 1 film for an amazing 16 consecutive weeks (it released domestically in November of 2013).
It may have lost ground to China in recent years but Japan was also the best ex-U.S. play for two other movies in the Top 10: Maleficent and X-Men: Days Of Future Past, according to Rentrak. The rest of the Top 10 international films can thank China for boosting their booty – save for Five Armies, a Middle Earth tale yet to release in the Middle Kingdom. For now, Germany is Bilbo’s most ardent follower.
Across the Top 10, Fox and Disney had three titles a piece; Warner had two and Paramount and Sony each had one.
Let’s turn to foreign-language films and the seemingly unstoppable power of China. Overall, the chart contains 31 foreign-lingo pics, of which 17 are Chinese.
None of those 17 films played in more than eight territories. The top-grossing Chinese film, Breakup Buddies, earned its $195.3M from five markets and is sandwiched between No. 23 Gone Girl with $195.6M and No. 25 RoboCop with $184.4M – those Hollywood movies played in 76 and 81 markets, respectively.
What’s more, if we magically moved Breakup Buddies over to the domestic chart, it would be the No. 12 movie of the year, just behind Godzilla. Other Chinese pics like Tiny Times 3.0 ($86.9M) and Gone With The Bullets ($80.8M), made all of their money on the mainland.
Also in the mix are four films each out of Korea and Japan, three from France and one each from Spain, India and Turkey. In a testament to the strength of their home markets, only two of those were released in more than 13 territories: France’s Qu’Est-Ce Qu’On A Fait Au Bon Dieu?! and Supercondriaque, which nevertheless made most of their money in the Hexagon.
The numbers below cover only what a film earned between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014 outside North America. For The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, for instance, that number was a small portion of its total gross, while it was a huge portion of the total for the series’ concluding episode, The Battle Of The Five Armies.
The figures represent all international grosses reported through January 7, 2015 – an artifact of the slow process in some countries of gathering all receipts.
Brooks Smith contributed to this report