90% of top grossing blockbusters in 2015 depended on foreign audiences

So far this year 9 in 10 of the top grossing blockbuster films have made more money outside of the U.S. market.

In fact, films like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Furious 7” got more than 65% of their total takings at the box office thanks to foreign markets.

Recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reprisal of his iconic role in “Terminator: Genisys” fizzled at the U.S box office, but suddenly took off in Asia, particularly in China, setting an overseas record for a film that didn’t make it past $100m in the U.S.

Except for “Pitch Perfect 2,” all the films released in 2015 so far that have reached the top 10 depended on foreign markets to make up the bulk of their earnings. This was particularly the case for action movies like “Furious 7”, “Terminator: Genisys” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

With foreign territories becoming increasingly relevant to the success of blockbuster films, how long will it take before screenplays have to change to appeal to audiences that are not American? With the success of “Furious 7” you would think that there’s no need to make a Chinese or Asian themed action film to suit a bigger foreign audience, but when it comes to other films with less budget, and spectacle, do they need to start thinking foreign first?

One particular release that failed spectacularly this year was “Tomorrowland,” which pulled in $93m domestically, and $115m internationally. 55% of its return at the box office was from overseas markets but compared to “Terminator: Genisys,” its performance at the foreign box office was very weak. “Terminator: Genisys” did less well than “Tomorrowland” domestically but still managed to pull in over $300m abroad which showed how George Clooney’s epic adventure didn’t capture audiences in the same way in foreign markets. Was it simply too American?

Top 10 grossing films of 2015 : Foreign market ratio
(Takings outside the U.S. market as a percentage of global receipts)

  • 1: Jurassic World: 60.7%
  • 2: Avengers: Age of Ultron: 67.4%
  • 3: Furious 7: 76.8%
  • 4: Inside Out: 51%
  • 5: Minions: 68.1%
  • 6: Cinderella: 62.9%
  • 7: Pitch Perfect 2: 35.6%
  • 8: Home: 54.2%
  • 9: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: 64.5%
  • 10: Ant-Man: 53%

Source : Box Office Mojo

With productions relying more on foreign markets in the future, can Hollywood really maintain the style of film we’ve been accustomed to with the dwindling relevance of the box office at home? When 60-80% of a movie’s audience is not American, surely that will have a longterm impact on the films we see.