Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

May 24, 2011

Do you mind if I stand here in the shadow of your, uh, greatness?

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The world loves pirates. Yar.

Kim Hollis: We apparently live in a world comprised of other countries, something our Canadian and British contributors can confirm. While On Stranger Tides was opening well domestically, it returned a historic international take of $256.3 million - more than any other film previously. It bested the prior record holder Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince's $236 million by 8.6%. If you're Disney, do you focus more on the diminishing domestic performance or the record-shattering $346 million global debut?

Edwin Davies: It depends on how well the film continues to perform - if word-of-mouth is tepid, then the film could drop off considerably in the coming weeks, which would take the shine off the huge debut - but they'd be fools not to focus on the international market. As I mentioned in the previous topic, there was a pretty shocking drop between the domestic totals of the second and third Pirates movies, and it looks like there could be a smaller but no less significant drop between the third and fourth, but At World's End actually made slightly more internationally than Dead Man's Chest. I don't think that the international performance of On Stranger Tides will be strong enough to take it into the $900 million+ range that its predecessors occupy, but I think that it will be enough to indicate that, much as in the case of the Narnia series, Captain Jack's future may lie overseas.


Matthew Huntley: Good points, Edwin, and Pirates is just the latest in a long line of Hollywood franchises that shows just how important international markets have become to U.S.-based studios. Back in 2007, Spider-Man 3 was the lowest-grossing of that series Stateside, but also the biggest one internationally. The same goes for the last Mummy, Ice Age and Shrek movies. It's funny, but as the quality of a franchise goes down, its international numbers tend to go up.

Regardless, Disney would be wise to concentrate most of its marketing budget on the international circuit and spend less domestically, at least for a franchise like Pirates, whose momentum doesn't seem to be slowing down outside the United States. They might realize, after tallying On Stranger Tides' domestic numbers, that too much money was spent appealing to a people who doesn't really care any more. To give you an example, here in Los Angeles, Pirates banner and posters have been EVERYWHERE and I honestly don't know who's responding to them. The walls outside the AMC at Century City mall are covered in them. Sure, they raise awareness, but do they raise interest or excitement? Disney would be better off shifting such ads to a countries whose citizens are still looking forward to the franchise continuing.

Max Braden: That's great news for the company, but I think it's likely that the international success is largely due to the addition of more venues worldwide. More venues are just going to translate into more money until they've reached a saturation point like they have here domestically. And apples to apples, the domestic opening for Pirates barely surpassed Fast Five's and is going to get crushed by a number of other movies coming out in the next few months. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that The Deathly Hallows Part 2 recaptures the international record. I would also be wary of a strategy pushing major movies overseas while ignoring the US market, because especially in the US where the tie-in market is strong, ticket sales help translate to other sales that would suffer without the awareness of the big opening movie.

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