The summer blockbuster season’s hits, sleepers and flops so far, plus the local titles making a big impact in Asia and Europe, are analysed by Ian Sandwell.
After Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games set a formidable benchmark with a hau lto date of $684.4m ($407.3m in North America), the summer so far has become a blockbuster battleground as threequels, a reboot and two of the most eagerly anticipated films of recent years fight for supremacy.
Soaring high above the competition was Marvel/Disney’s The Avengers, as it swiftly became the third biggest film of all time. With the allure of Joss Whedon directing multiple superheroes proving irresistible to a loyal fanbase, The Avengers also achieved strong critical acclaim, allowing it to appeal to casual viewers who perhaps had not seen the preceding five films in the Marvel canon.
The superhero behemoth rode this perfect storm to a commanding $844.6m internationally to add to its domestic bounty of $617.3m, resulting in an extraordinary $1.46bn to date. Its early launch date certainly helped that tally.
After four weeks, The Dark Knight Rises is potentially the only other release this summer that could join The Avengers in the $1bn club.
While unlikely to challenge Disney’s team-up on either the international or domestic front, Warner Bros’ climactic instalment to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has recorded impressive opening salvos for $837.2m worldwide to date. Its domestic gross has arguably been affected by the Colorado shooting tragedy, but could still end up challenging The Dark Knight’s series high of $1bn worldwide.
Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man faced a tricky proposition, rebooting a franchise just 10 years after the previous origin film. Though a tally so far of $690.9m seems strong, it looks somewhat mixed when viewed in the context of the series.
Currently, the 3D reboot is the lowest grossing Spider-Man domestically and is unlikely to catch Spider-Man 3’s previous series-low of $336.5m; while internationally, it is the second highest grosser of the franchise even if Spider-Man 3’s $554.3m might prove a touch too far. A Chinese release on August 30 could change that.
It is a similar picture for the latest in the Ice Age franchise. A comparatively weak domestic gross of $144.5m so far could prevent Ice Age: Continental Drift recording a worldwide series-high, despite the second-best international performance of the series at $624.3m to date.
No such problems for the latest instalment of both the Madagascar and Men In Black franchises. Despite a staggered international release - with openings in the likes of Australia (September 13), Germany (October 2) and the UK (October 19) still to come - Paramount’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is on course for a trilogy-high worldwide performance, standing at $548.2m as it chases down Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’s $603.9m.
As for Sony’s Men In Black 3, it is already the biggest worldwide hit for the sci-fi comedy trilogy at $622.9m, even with a series-low domestic performance of $177.5m to date.
In the face of this Hollywood onslaught, some local titles have shone, not least in the exploding Chinese market.
Huayi Brothers’ Painted Skin: The Resurrection benefitted from an entirely 3D release as it has swiftly become the highest grossing Chinese-language film with an astonishing $114.7m so far.
Elsewhere in Asia, Toho recorded a strong one-two with Thermae Romae laughing its way to an impressive $73.8m in Japan, while Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts has made its mark with $67.6m after five weeks in play.
In South Korea, home-grown titles such as N.E.W.’s All About My Wife and CJ E&M’s Deranged have recorded decent numbers of $29.4m and $28.3m to date. A late local contender could come in the form of The Thieves, which has notched an extraordinary $59.1m debut since its release on July 25.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s Bollywood successes, UTV’s Rowdy Rathore joined the 100 crore club with an exceptional 135.5 crore nett (roughly $24.3m), alongside Eros’ Housefull 2 which took 111.8 crore nett (roughly $20m) in April.
Meanwhile in Europe, Warner Bros’ I Want You romanced the Spanish box office to become the year’s biggest local hit, while also making a splash in Russia. It has taken $14.9m in Spain, with its $5.8m total in Russia a strong bonus.
However, not every notable studio film struck gold this summer. Warner Bros’ Rock Of Ages was decidedly off-key with $50.1m worldwide, some way short of the $202.5m taken by Adam Shankman’s previous musical, Hairspray.
And while marketed as “from the producer of Bridesmaids”, Universal’s The Five-Year Engagement failed to replicate last summer’s sleeper-hit success. It has so far taken just over $50m worldwide, as opposed to Bridesmaids’ $288.4m.
Fox’s 3D action-horror Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has also lacked bite with $78.8m to date, compared to the $341.4m grossed by Timur Bekmambetov’s previous English-language effort Wanted in 2008.
It has only just started its international roll-out but Sony’s That’s My Boy resulted in another domestic disappointment for Adam Sandler, with only $36.9m taken.
Among all of this, there was also space for a sleeper hit in the form of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike. Channing Tatum is swiftly becoming one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.
The stripper comedy-drama marks Tatum’s third film in a row to make more than $100m domestically, with the film thrusting its way to a worldwide gross of almost $150m after seven weeks in play.
All figures correct to August 12
2012 summer blockbusters at the box office (from April 1)
|Rank||Title||Int’l gross||Domestic gross||Worldwide gross|
|2||The Dark Knight Rises||$446.6m||$389.6m||$837.2m|
|3||Ice Age: Continental Drift||$624.3m||$144.5m||$768.8m|
|4||The Amazing Spider-Man||$435.2m||$255.8m||$690.9m|
|5||Men In Black 3||$445.3m||$177.5m||$622.9m|
|6||Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted||$335.5m||$211.7m||$548.2m|
|7||Snow White And The Huntsman||$236.9m||$154.3m||$391.2m|