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When Hollywood Loses Control: How Foreign Box Office Owns the Movie Business

The new "Transformers" movie is only the latest example of what's now established: Foreign box office holds the power over American movies.

Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

“Transformers: The Last Knight”

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Bay F

Where the world’s top-performing movies used to be nearly the sole domain of American franchises, the competition for top-performing movies now extends to Japan and China with films like “Your Name” (Japan), “Kung Fu Yoga” (China), and “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back” (China). All have grossed $250 million or more, with virtually no contribution from North America. Another Chinese production, “The Great Wall,” had some interest in the West with star Matt Damon, but their overriding interest in the actor lay with his overseas appeal. It earned $332 million worldwide, with only 13 percent domestic.

“Your Name”

The high end for domestic share belongs to “Get Out” at nearly 70 percent. Still, its $76 million foreign take for an African-American themed film is unusual, with genre elements clearly aiding it. The other with over half of its haul domestic is “The LEGO Batman Movie;” like the initial “LEGO” film, it did about 55 percent of its business in North America.

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“Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Woman”are among the more significant domestic successes at 40 percent and 48 percent, respectively (look to the impending Japanese release of “Wonder Woman” to bring that number down). Both are more female driven.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” stands at 45 percent domestic, slightly up from its first rendition (and countering the trend). “Split,” a low-budget genre production, is just under half domestic in totals since it wasn’t released in China.

Also among the top 20 so far are “Logan,” “The Boss Baby,” and “Fifty Shades Darker,” which fall between 30 percent-40 percent domestic. “Kong: Skull Island” sits just under 30 percent.

Top 20 Movies of 2017 to Date, Worldwide

1 Beauty and the Beast: $1,257 million
Domestic: $504 million (40.1%) Foreign: $753 (59.9%)

2 The Fate of the Furious: $1,238 million
Domestic: $225.2 (18.2%) Foreign: $1,013 million (81.8%)

3 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: $852 million
Domestic: $380.6 (44.7%) Foreign: $471.2 (55.3%)

4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $680 million
Domestic: $160.9 (23.7%) Foreign: $519.1 (76.3%)

5 Wonder Woman: $657 million
Domestic: $321.2 (48.9%) Foreign: $335.8 (51.1%)

6 Logan: $618 million
Domestic: $226.3 (36.6%) Foreign: $391.8 (63.4%)

7 Kong: Skull Island: $566 million
Domestic: $168.1 (29.7%) Foreign: $398.1 (70.3%)

8 The Boss Baby: $493 million
Domestic: $173.1 (35.1%) Foreign: $320.3 (64.9%)

9 Fifty Shades Darker: $379 million
Domestic: $114.4 (30.2%) Foreign: $264.4 (69.8%)

10 Your Name: $354 million
Domestic: $4.9 (1.4%) Foreign: $349.5 (98.6%)

11 xXx: The Return of Xander Cage: $346 million
Domestic: $44.9 (13.0%) Foreign: $301.2 (87.0%)

12 The Mummy: $345 million
Domestic: $69.5 (20.2%) Foreign: $275.2 (79.8%)

13 The Great Wall: $332 million
Domestic: $45.2 (13.6%) Foreign: $286.8 (86.4%)

14 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: $312 million
Domestic: $26.8 (8.6%) Foreign: $285.4 (91.4%)

15 The LEGO Batman Movie: $311 million
Domestic: $175.8 (56.5%) Foreign: $135.1 (43.5%)

16 Split: $276 million
Domestic: $138.1 (49.9%) Foreign: $138.8 (50.1%)

17 Transformers: The Last Knight: $272 million
Domestic: $73.2 (26.9%) Foreign: $199.2 (3.1%)

18 Kung Fu Yoga: $254 million
Domestic: $363k (0.1%) Foreign: $253.8 (99.9%)

19 Get Out: $252 million
Domestic: $175.5 (69.7%) Foreign: $76.3 30.3%)

20 Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back: $247 million
Domestic: $880k (0.4%) Foreign: $245.7 (99.6%)

Note: While “The Mummy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” currently reflect domestic shares above 20%, all are still in release with foreign territories yet to open, and are anticipated to go under 20% domestic.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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