Around the World Roundup: ‘Watchmen’ Washes Out
by Conor Bresnan
March 11, 2009
Watchmen failed to entice an international audience to match its huge marketing blitz, extremely wide release and hype as an intended blockbuster, meeting a similar fate as Speed Racer, Max Payne and Body of Lies. In the recent past, domestic duds like The Golden Compass and Poseidon would usually hit their expected grosses overseas, but that's been a tall order lately.
Leading the weekend with a $26.6 million debut from 44 markets Watchmen was low compared to other superhero movies, which generally have smaller overseas totals than domestic. Back in June, The Incredible Hulk grabbed $30.8 million out of the gate from 38 markets and it ultimately fell short of its domestic haul. Watchmen opened at a difficult point on the calendar when local productions tend to dominate, and it lacked the name recognition of a sequel or famous comic book in most parts of the world to overcome the competition. 300 faced a similar situation two years ago, but benefitted from a staggered release schedule to optimize each territory.
Breaking the weekend down, Watchmen performed best in the United Kingdom, where it led with $4.5 million, but that was much worse than The Incredible Hulk's debut and less than half of 300's. Elsewhere, Watchmen mostly ranked second or third in each market. In France, it logged a disappointing $2.5 million, while, in Germany, it recorded a mere third-place $2 million. It squeezed out a win in South Korea, though with a poor $1.4 million start. Even action-oriented Southeast Asia was indifferent to Watchmen. Singapore was its top draw in that region with just $371,157. Latin America, another region favorable to action pictures, was off as well. Watchmen bagged only $790,771 in Brazil and $732,969 in Mexico. Next up are Greece and Hong Kong this weekend and then only Scandinavia, Japan and a few smaller markets remain on the movie's schedule.
Easing eight percent, Slumdog Millionaire grossed $15.1 million and pushed its total to $117 million. The Best Picture Oscar winner opened to a chart-topping $1.9 million in Brazil (aided by previews). In Greece, it was No. 1 with a splendid $974,690 debut from 74 screens. Among holdovers, Slumdog again was outstanding. Notable holds included the U.K. (off 23 percent, $39.7 million total), France (14 percent, $13.3 million), Hong Kong (23 percent, $2 million) and Mexico (19 percent, $2.7 million). Slumdog enters Finland and Taiwan this weekend.
Gran Torino excelled again, making $11.5 million over the weekend from 17 markets for a $33 million tally. The action drama remained atop France with $4.4 million, off 20 percent for an $11.2 million total. Additionally, it fell only ten percent in the U.K. and 26 percent in Greece. New territories, though, were a mixed bag. In Germany, its near $1 million start was decent but ranked fifth, while, in Spain, its $2.7 million debut topped fellow openers Bedtime Stories and Watchmen. Gran Torino reaches Italy this weekend.
Rising to fourth place with an 11-territory expansion, Marley and Me grossed $8.3 million from 30 markets for a $33 million total. In Germany, the comedy opened ahead of Watchmen and dethroned The Reader with $3 million from 546 screens. It was also debuted impressively in France ($2.4 million) and the Netherlands ($609,088). Marley has played most of Asia and Latin America and still has most of Europe to go.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button rounded out the Top Five with $7.3 million, tallying $189.6 million. The fantastical drama had no openings and had steeper drops than in previous weeks. Its outstanding totals include Japan ($21.3 million), France ($18.9 million), Germany ($18.4 million) and Spain ($14.3 million).
Other significant grosses were mostly from foreign movies, except The Reader, which abated only 14 percent in Germany and pushed its total to $27.8 million. Placing first in Russia and the Ukraine, Lyubov v bolshom gorode (Love in the Big City) grossed $6.8 million from three markets. Japan had four new local nationwide releases, including the market champion Yattâman ($4.6 million) and the latest Doraemon picture, which kept the franchise going with a $3.8 million start. Elsewhere, Kochaj i tancz led Poland with a monstrous $1.9 million, The Young Victoria was solid with $1.4 million in the U.K., and Män som hatar kvinnor continued to top both Denmark and Sweden for a $10.7 million total.
• Foreign Weekend Box Office Results
• 'Slumdog' Surges
Domestic Weekend Report
• 'Watchmen' Rages in the Top Spot