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Worldwide Box Office: From “Melancholia” To “Beginners,” How The Indies Are Faring Overseas

Worldwide Box Office: From "Melancholia" To "Beginners," How The Indies Are Faring Overseas

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,” Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Mike Mills’ “Beginners.” In a continuing feature on indieWIRE, the focus will turn to how a few independent films are faring around the world.

This week, that includes “Paris,” “Beginners” and “Life,” as well as Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” which opened in a few European markets well ahead of its Fall U.S. release date. Please note that the numbers consider all reporting countries as of June 19 (many countries are a bit slow in publicizing their numbers).

Initial Foreign Release Date: May 26, 2011 (Czech Republic, Denmark)
Total Foreign Gross: $1,267,618
Total Markets in Release: 6
Best Performing Market: Sweden ($308,463 as of June 12, 2011)

Roughly a half-year before making its theatrical debut Stateside, Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” has opened in a few markets in Europe, mostly in his native Scandinavia (where its being released through Nordisk). In Denmark, the only numbers from the film’s debut weekend – May 27 – 29 – are available, which saw the film open at #3 at the overall box office via 57 screens across the county. It pulled in the U.S. dollar equivalent of $183,988 (which translates to a $3,228 per theater average).

Comparably on the same weekend, “The Hangover Part II” opened on 75 screens in Denmark and had an average roughly five times that. But clearly, even for his fellow Danes, von Trier is not exactly popcorn fare. And overall it’s a respectable start for a film coming off both great reviews and potentially box office-damaging controversy at the Cannes Film Festival. Other debut weekends include Sweden ($111,257 from 19 screens); Norway ($79,180 from 58 screens); and Finland ($25,183 from 12 screens). Artificial Eye will release it in the United Kingdom on September 30th, while Magnolia Pictures acquired the distribution rights for North America and will release it on November 4th.

Initial Foreign Release Date: June 9, 2011 (Germany)
Total Foreign Gross: $983,941
Total Markets in Release: 2
Best Performing Market: Germany ($608,265 as of June 19th)

This American-made film full of foreign stars (Scotland’s Ewan McGregor, France’s Melanie Laurent, Croatia’s Goran Visnjic, and, if it counts, Canada’s Christopher Plummer) is off to a nice little start in two of the most economically viable European markets. In France, the presence of Laurent surely helped the film debut to a $375,676 (USD) gross from 61 screens, averaging $6,159 (the third highest of any film in release there). In Germany, the film also debuted strongly a week prior, grossing $257,630 from 58 screens to find a place in the overall top 10. It fell just 21% in week two and now has nearly grossed $1 million in Europe. The film will open in many more markets through the summer, perhaps most notably the UK on July 22nd.

Midnight In Paris
Initial Foreign Release Date: May 11 (France)
Total Foreign Gross: $23,180,456
Total Markets in Release: 4
Best Performing Market: France ($13,951,780 as of June 19, 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 $21,446,614 in five weeks for distributor Sony Pictures Classics. That’s the sixth best gross ever for Woody, and its rising fast.

Internationally, from just four markets (France, Belgium, Brazil and Spain), “Paris” has already totaled $23,180,456. It even reached #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.

The Tree of Life
Initial Foreign Release Date: May 18 (France, Belgium, Italy)
Total Foreign Gross: $15,900,000
Total Markets Reporting: 13
Best Performing Market: France ($7,668,303 as of June 19, 2011)

So far, so good for Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” which has now opened in 13 European markets since debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. While the film has slowly expanded in the US over the past month to promising results ($3,900,355 from a widest screen count of 114), the film has gone relatively wide in several countries to similarly great 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 10 overall performers five weeks running. Its gross so far is $7,668,303. 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 $38 million domestically.

Other strong performances for “Tree” include Italy, where its grossed $3,298,038 in 4 weeks of release, and Germany, where it just opened last weekend to a $628,343 from 99 screens. There’s many markets where it’s yet to open (including the UK, where it finally has a release date via Fox Searchlight).

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.

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