Looking at the box office reports for Justin Timberlake’s last three films, the Los Angeles Times noticed a trend: They’ve all done bigger foreign than domestic business. Bad Teacher, his highest live-action domestic grosser (and that includes The Social Network – how is that possible?) earned $100.3 million at home and $115.9 million abroad. Friends With Benefits had a larger spread, with $55.8 million domestic versus $93.7 million foreign. And so far, In Time’s receipts are following suit: $30.6 million domestic and $53.1 million foreign. How would you explain it?
I checked in with EW’s box office expert Grady Smith who said more and more, it’s standard for movies to make most of their dough overseas. The international box office has been exploding for a decade, and for blockbusters, it’s very standard to earn about 60-70 percent of worldwide gross internationally, he adds. That said, rom-coms are easy to market overseas. A poster with a smiling man and an attractive woman translates well. That could definitely account for Friends With Benefits, costarring Mila Kunis (see: also the Katherine Heigl oeuvre with The Ugly Truth grossing roughly $27 million more and 27 Dresses $7 million more internationally). I assume that poster with Amanda Seyfried isn’t hurting In Time abroad either, though Grady notes a look at recent similar movies reveals a similar trend: Limitless, Adjustment Bureau, Source Code, and Unknown all earned more overseas than domestically (albeit by less of a margin).
EW’s Adam B. Vary wonders if other countries have less of a hang-up about music stars also being movie stars. In India, they’re one in the same, and it also happens throughout Asia, he says. What’s your theory?