EXCLUSIVE: Looking at the international box office over the past few weekends, if there’s one trend that’s beginning to emerge from the smattering of cinemas back in operation, it’s that audiences are responding to new product — and fresh re-releases. Exhibitors are getting the job done with what’s available to them, but it’s still slim pickings out there. A clear success story this past session, however, was Korea where a subsidy offered by local body KOFIC, which sharply discounted tickets, resulted in a huge boost in receipts, from $1.2M last frame to $3.17M this session across the Top 10 titles. Play was led by new local thriller Intruder, which accounted for the bulk of takings at $2.2M (see market snapshots below).
Elsewhere in Asia, some were up, some were down. Japan saw a nice hike thanks to the return of a trio of Avengers movies while Hong Kong and Taiwan dipped. Australia saw a nice increase as did New Zealand which has been on an upward curve for several weeks and this week decided to drop all coronavirus-related restrictions as the country is now COVID-free.
Due to open cinemas this week is Ukraine; Italy starts up again on June 15. While Polish cinemas were able to open from last week, the major chains continue to ride it out.
In France, where cinemas are due to return on June 22, distributors are beginning to announce new dates. Wild Bunch has set Lucky Strike for July 8 and The Vigil for August 5, for example. However, it was also announced this week that one of major chain UGC’s Champs-Elysées multiplexes, the George V, will remain closed. Having opened its doors in 1938, the site has 11 screens and will be taken over by MK2, which is expected to re-open it in 2022 after refurb work is completed.
In Belgium, major exhib Kinepolis said this week that it has set its upcoming programming and will open online ticketing from June 10 for planned re-openings in July.
Still no official word out of China, though signs are pointing to re-openings this month. Still, a recent report from the China Film Association found that more than 40% of cinemas in the vast market could close permanently following the coronavirus lockdown. USC professor Stanley Rosen recently told us that “the alarmist nature” of the report “reflects the appeal of theater owners to the state for a major rescue package.” Exhibitors are saying, “If you give us what we need to survive, the audience will return, but if you wait too long, it may be too late,” Rosen suggests.
Last year at this time, Disney/Fox’s Dark Phoenix led in its opening, but got singed with $103.7M in 53 markets. It was followed by Disney’s Aladdin with $70.7M in 55 and WB/Legendary’s Godzilla: King Of The Monsters at $47.9M from 78.
Here’s a snapshot at performances in some overseas markets this past session:
KOREA – Thanks to a subsidy offered by local body KOFIC which sees normal ticket prices discounted from 60%-70%, and will be applied at all cinemas and on all movies until June 21, Korea saw a huge 164% boost in receipts this weekend. The total across the Top 10 was $3.17M with new local thriller Intruder in the lead at $2.2M from 1,363 sites. The movie from director Sohn Won-pyung was postponed twice during the coronavirus crisis. It centers on a woman who went missing 25 years ago and whose return to her family elicits suspicion from her older brother. In 2nd, The Greatest Showman also benefited with $310K from 519 locations. We hear that the movie, from Fox/Disney, has now become the biggest re-release under the COVID-19 restrictions. Last weekend’s winner, Underwater, sank to 3rd place with $196K from 493. Trolls World Tour is now at $983K in the market.
NETHERLANDS – The market was able to open on June 1, though this is the first week we are seeing numbers. The four-day frame was good for $774K across the Top 10 which was led by a re-release of local comedy/drama De Beentjes Van Sint-Hildegard at $158K from 153 sites. The Top 5 is rounded out by Onward, I See You, Bloodshot and last year’s Venice opener La Vérité.
HONG KONG – In their fourth weekend back online, HK cinemas dipped 9% over the Top 10 which grossed a cumulative $662K. Still in the lead is Japan’s Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna with $139K from the TFSS session at 54 sites. Nordic thriller Tunnelen came in 2nd at $120K in its first week at 43 engagements. Cannes title and Oscar nominee Les Misérables continues its strong run there with a $303K cume after three sessions.
GERMANY – The Top 24 titles in the market grossed $1.15M in the frame, a 17% dip on the previous session. The Top 10 did $497K (a 29% drop). For the first time since movie theaters re-opened, Constantin’s juggernaut Perfect Strangers was not the top film, however with a total gross of $53M to date (it was the No. 1 local movie of 2019), it was a key driver in getting people back out to the cinemas post-lockdown, and particularly to drive-ins. In first place was Warner Bros’ release of local title Nightlife at $88K from 120 sites. The Kangaroo Chronicles landed 2nd with $63K from 164. Knives Out and Onward round out the Top 5. Regions that opened in the past week include Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia and Brandenburg. Berlin is keyed up for June 30.
TAIWAN – In Taiwan, Onward continues to perform well, taking the No. 1 position for the 3rd weekend in a row with $194K from 90 locations. The cume is now $926K. WB’s The Dark Knight, which is in its 2nd week of re-release, landed 2nd with $150K from 75. The Top 10 movies did $362K, a 28% drop.
JAPAN – After being overwhelmingly dominated by Warner Bros titles the past few weeks, Japan got another look at some Marvel pics. The Avengers led all play at $58K from 278 sites, followed by WB’s Birds Of Prey ($44K/172), Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($38K/270), Captain America: Civil War ($35K/261) and WB’s Mask Ward ($5K/31). The Top 10 did $196K for a massive 326% increase, likely aided by Toho multiplexes having re-opened. However, we are cautioned that Tokyo audiences are still cautious about returning to cinemas.
AUSTRALIA – Oz cinemas added $189K from the Top 10, a very strong 133% jump on the previous session. They were led by Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man at $41K from 10 theaters. Rounding out the Top 5 are Bloodshot, Sonic The Hedgehog, Jumanji: The Next Level and Bad Boys For Life.
NEW ZEALAND – The South Pacific nation of 5M people on Monday declared itself virus free and said all restrictions would be lifted as of today. Box office in the market, which has seen week-to-week growth, did not disappoint this session, jumping 48% to $105K for the Top 10. Festival pic The Assisstant continues in the lead, now with a $64K cume. Sneak previews of Rialto’s Love Sarah landed that pic in 2nd with $16K from 11 sites. The Trip To Greece, Sonic The Hedgehog and Bloodshot round out the Top 5.
NORWAY – After hot and sunny weather put a damper on box office in this market last session, this weekend was by far the best since cinemas re-opened. There were 29,576 admissions, a 341% increase on the earlier frame. We understand there are more cinemas open, including the Odeon circuit. The weather was also rainy which helped out.
CZECH REP – In Czech Republic, where some major circuits are still not operating, there was an 8% hike weekend-to-weekend. This frame was worth $160K across the Top 20 titles which conitnue to be led by local documentary V Siti. Moving into 2nd above Onward is animated adventure comedy Norm Of The North: King Sized Adventure with $21K in its first week at 112 sites.
ICELAND – With a little over $47K this weekend across the Top 15, Iceland saw a 53% increase in box office for the session. All play continues to be led by local comedy The Last Fishing Trip with Disney/Pixar’s Onward in 2nd and faith-based drama I Still Believe in 3rd.
UAE – Dubai remains the only Emirate welcoming patrons back to cinemas (across the Middle East/North Africa it is the only area open). The Top 10 titles sold 3,334 tickets, that’s down 12% in terms of admissions. The lead picture was again Sony’s Bloodshot, followed by The Gentlemen, Wonder Woman, Knives Out and Bad Boys For Life. Capacity is limited to 30% and people under 12 or over 60 are not allowed to enter cinemas
SPAIN – Opening on a rolling basis, Spanish cinemas did $16K across the Top 10. Onward made its way back into the market to lead with a little over $2K from five locations. Major chain Cinesa earlier said it planned to be back in operation starting June 8 at three of its complexes, with one each in Santiago, Zaragoza and Valencia. However, Madrid cinemas are taking a slow approach to opening with most expected to wait for late June despite being cleared.