I’ve had a front-row seat on a fascinating drama unfolding behind the international grosses for Universal’s Fast Five and Paramount’s distribution of Marvel /Disney’s Thor over the past 10 days. This weekend they went head to head in more than a dozen countries. The feud started because of Paramount’s decision to move onto Fast Five‘s Easter weekend Down Under. That created ill will, so Universal has been crowing about how much its street racing fivequel has been beating the Norse god pic overseas. Now Thor insiders are nervous that the lopsided victory of Fast Five internationally will hurt the Disney/Marvel’s domestic box office when it opens in the U.S. and Canada this coming Friday. Rarely have I seen studios bicker back and forth about box office as intensely as during this matchup. Especially when Paramount is only distributing Thor for its standard fee from Marvel. But it’s all about market share and just plain pride. Universal has been hit starved in the live action arena for so long that it’s releasing foreign numbers almost hour by hour, to the great consternation of Paramount which is pointing out that sequels always do better overseas. Paramount also is claiming that this may be Universal’s only really big hit of the summer. Strange thing to say, since Paramount is distributing foreign for DreamWorks/Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens. But, hey, all is fair in love and war and grosses, and I’m enjoying the heck out of this box office throwdown.
Universal preened about Fast Five results in Russia (where FF 68% ahead of Thor), Germany (FF 86% ahead of Thor), Spain (FF 30% ahead of Thor), Austria (FF 202% ahead of Thor), Switzerland (German-speaking area), Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and Korea. But Paramount boasted that Thor recorded the highest opening weekend gross at the international box office this year and had big No. 1 openings this weekend in the UK, Ireland, France, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, and Italy. (more…)