By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 7, 2011 at 1:58AM
The specialty marketplace has been heating up in North America, in large part thanks to the huge per-theater-averages for Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." In a new feature on indieWIRE, the focus will turn to how a few independent films are faring around the world.
This week, that includes both "Paris" and "Life," which made their world premieres in Europe at last month's Cannes Film Festival. They're faring quite well so far, as are Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" and Richard Ayoade's "Submarine." Please note that the numbers consider all reporting countries as of May 29 (many countries are a bit slow in publicizing their numbers). Check back with indieWIRE in the coming weeks for the next edition of this column, which will take a look at how Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" has been doing in its limited European release.
The Tree of Life
Initial Foreign Release Date: May 18 (France, Belgium, Italy)
Total Foreign Gross: $6,125,444 (as of May 29)
Total Markets Reporting: 6
Best Performing Market: France ($3,907,015 as of May 29)
So far, so good for Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," which has opened in six European markets since debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. While the film has managed a strong start in a very limited release stateside, the film has gone relatively wide in several countries to promising results. In France, where "Tree" began its life at Cannes, the film has hit 351 locations and found a place in the country's top 5 overall performers two weeks running. Its gross so far is $3,907,015. Considering France's population is roughly 1/5th that of the United States (or 1/4.67th to be exact), it's basically the equivalent of taking in $20 million domestically.
Other strong performances for "Tree" include Italy, where its grossed $1,587,587 in 12 days of release (and placed #3 in the overall box office). There's many markets where it's yet to open (including the UK, where there is no official release date).
Malick's previous films both fared better overseas. 2005's "The New World" took in $17,823,920 (vs. $12,712,093 domestically), while 1998's "The Thin Red Line" managed $61,726,074 (vs. $36,400,491 domestically). So far, "The Tree of Life" seems to be headed for a similar situation, which is good news for the $32 million-budgeted film, which with its 2 1/2 hour running time and far-from-mainstream-approach-to-filmmaking, is going to need all the help it can get as the luster surrounding its Palme d'Or win begins to fade.
Midnight In Paris
Initial Foreign Release Date: May 11 (France)
Total Foreign Gross: $14,754,731
Total Markets in Release: 2
Best Performing Market: France ($9,870,058 as of May 29, 2011)
Another American filmmaker that is generally embraced far more enthusiastically overseas is Woody Allen (especially when his films are set there). Last year, his London-based "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" grossed $31,027,741 overseas, making up over 90% of its worldwide gross. In 2008, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" managed $73,192,591 overseas, helping to make it Allen's best worldwide performer ever. In North America, Allen's latest is already a bonafide hit, grossing $6,942,963 in three weeks despite a limited screen count. That's a higher number than the final grosses of both "Stranger" and "Whatever Works," and its wide release next weekend is next weekend.
Overseas, from just two markets (France and Spain), "Paris" has already totaled $14,754,731. In its three weekends of release in those two countries, it's placed in the overall top 5 every time, even reaching #1 in Spain in its first frame. Numbers from Italy (the second-best market worldwide for "Stranger"), Germany, the UK (where "Stranger" only opened this past March, despite being set there) and others are all still to come as "Paris" takes aim at "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"'s record $96 million worldwide gross.
Initial Foreign Release Date: May 19, 2011 (Germany)
Total Foreign Gross: $2,193,080
Total Markets in Release: 8
Best Performing Market: Italy ($825,973 as of May 29, 2011)
Mel Gibson's capabilities as an overseas draw are being seriously tested with "The Beaver." While the film has at least crossed the $1 million mark overseas (it has yet to do so domestically, despite being open for considerably more weeks there), it's not raking in substantial numbers. "The Beaver" has grossed the most in Italy, where its managed to outgross its U.S. numbers despite only being out for 2 weeks. It debuted there to a $446,868 gross on 270 screens (averaging $1,655, pretty much on par with the second weekend of Vanessa Hudgens-starrer "Beastly") and then dropped a steep 54% the next time around. It's only been open for one reported week in France (a country generally considered to adore "Beaver" helmer/co-star Jodie Foster, and where the film had its European premiere at Cannes), where it did fare a bit better. On 195 screens, it grossed $659,661 in its first frame, averaging a respectable $3,383. But that was still just on par with "Midnight in Paris"'s third weekend average, despite the fact that "Paris" was on more than twice the screens. In general, the film could end up finding 90% of its final worldwide gross outside of America, but that's still not going to amount to much.
Initial Foreign Release Date: March 18, 2011 (UK)
Total Foreign Gross: $2,348,133
Total Markets in Release: 1
Best Performing Market: UK ($2,348,133 as of May 29, 2011)
After nearly three months in release in the UK, Richard Ayoade's critically acclaimed coming-of-age film "Submarine" finally made its way to the United States this weekend, to so-so results. In its home country, "Submarine" has slowly taken in $2,348,133, a respectable number. Released by Optimum, it debuted to a $397,057 gross in 60 houses (averaging $6,618) and is currently petering out of the marketplace (it grossed $5,095 from 4 screens over the May 27-29 weekend). It has ended up with roughly the same amount another recent UK-set coming-of-age film, "An Education," managed in 2009 ($2,929,236). That film managed over $10 million the United States (thanks in part to a best-picture Oscar nomination), though that's probably going to be out of reach for "Submarine" judging from its opening weekend.