International box office for 'After Earth' proves there's life after America
When "After Earth" crashed and burned at the US box office last week -- the latest in a long line of commercial misfires for director M Night Shyamalan, though a comparatively rare one for star Will Smith -- many column inches were spent dissecting, explaining and, in some cases, frankly revelling in its failure. After it dropped a calamitous 61% in its second weekend Stateside, tumbling to seventh place and inching to a total gross of just $46 million, casual box office surveyors eagerly prepared to read the film's last rites.
But not so fast. It's no surprise that this has been a quieter story, given the media's tendency even outside North America to focus on US grosses as the be-all and end-all, but internationally, "After Earth" is far from over. According to Screen Daily, the film opened in over 60 territories on Friday, and topped the charts in a number of them, including the UK, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mexico -- enough to push it just past "Fast & Furious 6" on the global box-office chart for the weekend.
Its international total is now approaching $49 million -- not a triumphant result from such an extensive release, but nothing like a bomb either. Here in the UK, where advance publicity from the US was pretty toxic and critics were no kinder than their damning American counterparts, its #1 debut (pushing two-week champ "The Hangover Part III") into the runner-up spot. Indeed, the $3.5 million weekend gross for "After Earth" in the UK is higher than that of any Shyamalan film since "The Village" in 2004.
Want further proof that the US and UK can be very different markets? Check out low-budget horror sleeper "The Purge" -- which topped the US box office over the weekend with $34 million, a figure 10 times the size its budget. That's a major result, but in the UK, where "The Purge" opened the Friday before last, it was a very different story: despite no other major new releases, the film opened in a lowly sixth place with just under $1.6 million. The victor that weekend, for the second week running, was the latest "Hangover" cash-in -- a moderate underperformer in the US, where it never topped the chart and currently sits in eighth place, relative to #2 in the UK. (It opened day-and-date.)
So, aside from the fact that there's a lot of gray territory between "hit" and "bomb," what are we to take away from this? Well, for starters, if Warner Bros. ever feels like investing in a fourth Wolf Pack adventure, they could do worse than set it in London. And perhaps have M Night Shyamalan direct it. But seriously, it's worth paying more attention to the discrepancies between a film's US and global box office performance -- in addition to being interesting from a cultural standpoint, they can often save a seemingly fried film's bacon.
The total global gross for "After Earth" currently stands at over $95 million, still $35 million short of what it needs to recoup its budget -- though with the help of foreign markets, it should creep toward that goal. It won't be the first time a Shyamalan film has relied on non-US audiences to this extent. Perhaps his earnest brand of fantasy simply plays better abroad, and in other languages. Perhaps the film's much-ballyhooed Scientological subtext is less of a sticking point in regions where the faith isn't as culturally prominent. Or perhaps, while many of us are considering calling time on the traditional construct of the movie star, Will Smith is the kind of universal brand who can still sell a locally rejected vehicle to trusting international viewers. That's cold comfort for "After Earth," but it'll take what it can get.
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Let Streaming Genie help you.