The Mummy (2017)
US Box Office: $80,101,125
International Box Office: $329,852,780
The movie was intended to launch a Marvel Cinematic Universe–like franchise based around Universal’s classic monsters (which would have been [email protected]$$). But, simply put, the movie was bad. It was so unsuccessful, that the entire franchise was killed. Surprisingly though, the movie ended up having the biggest international opening in Tom Cruise’s entire career!
US Box Office: $34,343,574
International Box Office: $185,175,793
The second sequel to The Da Vinci Code may have failed due to its bad reviews or because people here were a bit tired of the franchise. Internationally, though, the book series’ ongoing popularity — and the film’s European setting — helped the movie do much better.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)
US Box Office: $26,844,692
International Box Office: $287,256,498
This was the sixth (and final) film in the Resident Evil franchise, and North American audiences must have been over it. But while this was the worst-performing installment here, it was the biggest hit of the series overseas.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
US Box Office: $7,689,607
International Box Office: $56,663,000
This is the movie Heath Ledger was making when he died. To complete the movie, director Terry Gilliam enlisted Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law to finish his part. The film didn’t do much domestically, maybe because Gilliam’s surreal sensibility plays better internationally than in North America. The movie did much better internationally, specifically in Italy. The film’s distributor said it’s because Italian teens love Terry Gilliam. I kind of have a hard time seeing Italian teens screaming for Gilliam like he’s Harry Styles, but it’s what the guy said.
US Box Office: $65,233,400
International Box Office: $248,244,317
This massively budgeted film (200+ million) based on the classic board game seriously underperformed in the US due to bad reviews and a release date in the middle of The Avengers’ box office domination. Internationally, though, it was a blockbuster in places like China (where it became Universal’s highest grossing debut ever) and Russia.
About Time (2013)
US Box Office: $15,323,921
International Box Office: $73,214,821
Yes, this was a British production, but writer/director Richard Curtis had a massive track record in North America with smash hits like Notting Hill and Love Actually. Maybe the problem was a lack of stars outside of Rachel McAdams? Interestingly, while the movie did better in the UK (as expected), it was a massive hit in South Korea.
The Great Wall (2016)
US Box Office: $45.5 million
International Box Office: $289.4 million
The action film starring Matt Damon failed to earn even one-third of its $150 million production budget domestically. Internationally, the largest film ever shot completely in China was a mega hit — especially in China, where it brought in $171 million.
Gulliver’s Travels (2010)
US Box Office: $42,779,261
International Box Office: $189,238,587
Like a lot of the films on this list, Gulliver’s Travels got bad reviews. One of the criticisms was an over-reliance on special effects, which, ironically enough, might help explain the film’s success overseas, as quality special effects are something that don’t get lost in translation. The fact it was based on a classic of English literature probably helped it do well in the UK and Australia, as well other parts of Europe, too.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
US Box Office: $89,760,956
International Box Office: $342,389,938
Every film in the Terminator franchise has been on a downward trajectory in the US since Judgement Day, so this film’s domestic flop wasn’t a huge surprise. The movie was big overseas, though. It was even the first American film to earn 400 million worldwide without crossing the 100 million mark in North America.
In Time (2011)
US Box Office: $37,553,932
International Box Office: $127,550,020
At the time, Justin Timberlake was box office gold, with three of his previous four films grossing $100 million domestically. So this high-concept, cool-looking movie was expected to do a lot better here. Not sure why the movie underperformed domestically (reviews were so-so), but it was big in Japan and many other countries.
American Reunion (2012)
US Box Office: $56,758,835
International Box Office: $180,040,376
American comedies often struggle overseas as American humor doesn’t always translate, but in the case of this film, international audiences were way more into it than US ones. In fact, this was the most financially successful film of the franchise internationally, but the least successful one domestically.
US Box office: $47,365,290
International Box office: $391,534,534
Warcraft was based on a massively popular video game series and had a pretty decent audience score of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, U.S. audiences didn’t show up. Overseas, though, it had the biggest opening ever in Ukraine and the biggest opening of 2016 in Germany. It was big in Russia and China too!
The Golden Compass (2007)
US Box Office: $70,107,728
International Box Office: $297,154,830
The book this film is based on is largely considered to be an anti-Christian allegory, and while the studio tried to tone down those elements, they should have known they wouldn’t make a huge amount of money in the US. The film was a huge hit in less Christian countries like Japan though.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
US Box Office: $91.8 million
International Box Office: $167.2 million
American moviegoers were filled with anticipation for the cult classic sequel. But despite the buzz, the film starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford had such poor box office results in the US that the film wouldn’t have surpassed its $150 million production budget without the bump from overseas.
US Box Office: $43,482,270
International Box Office: $177,814,791
The film received relatively good reviews, but for whatever reason didn’t do well in North America. Luckily, Everest was much more popular in places like England, China, and Russia.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
US Box Office: $241.1 million
International Box Office: $804.6 million
It probably doesn’t seem like “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” belongs on this list, but a closer look reveals the 2011 film had a $250 million production budget — which is higher than its US box office results. Part of a long-running film franchise starring Johnny Depp, its overwhelming international success likely green-lighted the 2017 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
US Box Office: $47,398,41
International Box Office: $171,454,940
Sword and sandals films like this tend to do very well overseas, but its failure in the US was a bit surprising since the film’s director, Ridley Scott, had recently made the hit Gladiator. Scott thinks the film — about a battle between Christian Crusaders and Muslim armies — would have done better domestically if the studio had marketed the film’s religious and political aspects. Maybe, or maybe US audiences just didn’t want to see a film like this so soon after 9/11. Countries like Spain and Germany, though, were much more interested in it.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
US Box Office: $40,479,370
International Box Office: $174,618,986
This English-language French production by Luc Besson — a filmmaker with a history of hits in North America — was supposed to do well here, but didn’t. Casting Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in the lead roles may have been a mistake. While they’re both talented, they’re not really names to hang a $200 million production on. Another issue was that the French comic the film was based on isn’t all that well known in America. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the movie did big business in France, and was also a huge hit in China.
US Box Office: $58 million
International Box Office: $119.8 million
Despite its star-studded and sexy cast, the ’90s television series remake didn’t make enough at US box office to cover the film’s $69 million production budget. Much of the credit for its overseas success might be owed to original “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff’s popularity in Germany, as the movie reached peak international popularity in the country — quite possibly because he was in it.
Pacific Rim (2013)
US Box Office: $101.8 million
International Box Office: $309.2 million
Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi thriller “Pacific Rim” seemed primed for a win. But the film’s US box office results fell drastically short of its $190 million production budget. Despite this, the movie was a smashing success internationally, where it raked in a whopping $112 million in China alone.