As NorthAmerican figures broke over the weekend analysts were quick to label MichaelBay's The Island adisaster.
Certainly it isthe director's first domestic flop, but observers largely failed to recognisethe film's strong start in international markets, which more and more oftenacts as a saviour these days.
That will be oflittle consolation to US distributor DreamWorks as Warner Bros PicturesInternational has international rights to the film.
Launching innine international territories the film took pole position in seven, missingout in New Zealand and Japan, and landed fourth on Screen's international top30 chart.
The actionthriller's $10.4m first weekend was largely influenced by a massive start inSouth Korea where it recorded over $5m (Won 4.35bn) from 685,000 admissionsincluding previews. The other number ones were in smaller Asian territoriesincluding Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Koreanlaunch is especially heartening. The Island scored the second best opening of theyear in the territory, after War Of The Worlds, which took over 906,000 admissions duringits opening weekend in South Korea. The Island's opening tracked ahead of such majorplayers as Star Wars: Episode III, Batman Begins, Mr And Mrs Smith, KingdomOf Heaven and localstitles Another Public Enemy, Innocent Steps, The Red Shoes, AntarcticJournal and BloodRain.
Of courseit is currently impossible to say how the North American stall might impactfuture international launches, especially English language ones, with internetsavvy audiences quickly able to read the bad press. This may best be seen bythe Australian launch this weekend (July 28). Korea had the benefit ofreleasing day-and-date and so had all the anticipation with none of the negativeUS glare.
The film,however, did not see a strong start in Japan, launching fifth place on theJapanese table with $1.8m.
Bay's films havetraditionally performed more strongly international with the exception of BadBoys II. The original BadBoys grossed $75.6m frominternational territories representing 53.5% of its worldwide take. For TheRock this was boosted to60% as the Sean Connery/Nicolas Cage title just passed $200m internationally. Armageddon upped the ante once more taking $352m,63.6% of worldwide totals. Even Pearl Harbor, an American history epic with obviousappeal for US audiences, saw international cumulatives outperform domestic withthe $251m haul accounting for 56% of the worldwide gross.
If The Island is saved by its international run itwill be yet another case of a domestic disappointment rallying abroad. The pastyear has seen soft domestic performances from films such as The Terminal ($78m) and Constantine ($76m) and weak showings from KingArthur ($52m), Alexander ($34m) and Kingdom Of Heaven ($47m) find international audiences morereceptive. The Terminalsaw 64% of its worldwide total come from international markets ($141m), whilesimilar results where seen for Constantine ($154m, 67%).
Last summer's KingArthur grossed $152minternationally for a 75% piece of the worldwide pie. Alexander followed with $133m representing nearly80% of worldwide totals and Kingdom Of Heaven's $163m providing 77.5%.
Major Europeanterritories for The Island launch in August start with Germany on Aug 4. Spain follows oneday later and the UK on Aug 12. France is on Aug 17.
Elsewhere on theinternational chart Fox's Fantastic Four enjoyed its first week at the top boosted by top spotopenings in both the UK and France, as well as a handful of smaller Europeanterritories.
Two films passedthe $150m mark, Mr And Mrs Smith and Batman Begins, while Madagascar nears $200m and War Of The Worlds $300m - both should clear these marksnext weekend.
WeddingCrashers had astrong second weekend which included its first international pole position inSweden. The box office was led by a superb second weekend in the UK wherefigures nudged up 0.4% week-on-week through Entertainment Film Distributors. Italso saw a solid holdover in Germany slipping 25% and while German-speakingSwitzerland saw the raucous comedy go up 20% in its second weekend (boththrough Warner Bros).