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Different Strokes: 13 Infamous Bombs That Found Massive Box-Office Success Overseas

By Rebecca Pahle | Box Office Round-Ups | December 10, 2014 |


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We live in a strange world, where The Golden Compass isn’t the giant failure everyone thinks it is and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (you know, the one with the mermaids) is the 12th highest-grossing movie of all time.

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Pacific Rim
Domestic gross: $101.8 million
International gross: $309.2 million
Pacific Rim didn’t do all that well stateside, notably earning less money than Grown Ups 2 in its opening weekend, but its strong showing overseas—particularly in China, where it was the sixth-biggest debut for an American film ever—was enough to get Legendary Pictures to hear the cries of the fans and greenlight a sequel. Thanks, the rest of the world. We Americans really fell down on this one.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Domestic gross: $241 million
International gross: $804.6 million
OK, OK—$241 million domestic isn’t exactly a flop, even though that’s still less than its reported $250 budget, which was surely much more than that when you take marketing costs into account. Still, tell most people that the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is one of fewer than 20 movies to surpass a billion dollars at the box office, and you’re liable to get some confused stares.

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After Earth
Domestic gross: $60.5 million
International gross: $183.3 million
Looks like the rest of the world still has some patience for M. Night Shyamalan that American audiences are lacking. Speaking of…

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The Last Airbender
Domestic gross: $131.7 million
International gross: $187.9 million
OK, Avatar: The Last Airbender fans. Sorry I mentioned It-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. Moving on now.

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A Good Day to Die Hard
Domestic gross: $67.3 million
International gross: $237.3
Big-budget action movies tend to be the American movies that do best overseas. While, say, comedies tend to be more culture-specific, explosions transcend all barriers of language and nationality. This can be seen abundantly well with the fifth movie in the Die Hard franchise. No, not the one where Bruce Willis took out a helicopter with a motorcycle. The one after that. It bombed in America with a $67.3 million total gross, but Bruce Willis’ huge international fanbase (really) led to the movie earning over three times what it cost to make.

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The Smurfs 2
Domestic gross: $71 million
International gross: $276.5 million
Are you surprised that the lackluster (in terms of domestic gross and reviews) The Smurfs 2 is getting a sequel? Blame international audiences, which made the film a certified success.

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Noah
Domestic gross: $101.2 million
International gross: $261.4 million
Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic had no problem recouping its estimated $125 million budget when you take into account the international gross, which propelled its worldwide earning to a respectable $362.6 million. Now let’s have a sequel: Noah: The Refloodening.

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Troy
Domestic gross: $133.3 million
International gross: $364 million
It pains me to type this, but international audiences really liked Wolfgang Petersen’s mythology-less (as in no gods or goddesses or supernatural shenanigans) retelling of the Trojan War. In fact, it’s the sixth highest-grossing R rated film of all time.

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The Golden Compass
Domestic gross: $70 million
International gross: $302.1 million
Yes, even the notorious failed children’s book adaptation The Golden Compass was successful internationally. I guess giving a crap about the atheism controversy was only an American thing. Unlike other films on this list, The Golden Compass’ impressive international gross was not enough for a sequel to be greenlit. Let’s pour one out for the His Dark Materials series that could have been.

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Eragon
Domestic gross: $75 million
International gross: $174.4 million
DRAGONNNNNNSSSSSS.

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Jumper
Domestic gross: $80 million
International gross: $142 million
Audiences somewhere like Hayden Christensen!

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The Day the Earth Stood Still
Domestic gross: $79.3 million
International gross: $153.7 million
I actually saw this Keanu Reeves remake in theaters. I’m not sure why. I’m a little bit ashamed.

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Domestic gross: $55.7 million
International gross: $170.6 million
AKA the movie where, as a result of all that candy he ate as a child, an adult Hansel (Jeremy Renner) has developed fairy tale diabetes. I kid you not. Sequel, sequel hallelujah!

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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Domestic gross: $102.4 million
International gross: $298.6 million
This third movie in the Mummy franchise didn’t do that much worse than the original film (well, not original original, but the first Brendan Fraser one—you know what I mean). The Mummy earned $415.9 million total; Tomb of the Dragon Emperor earned $401.1 million. This whole “crappy-American-movies-are-saved-by-overseas-audiences” thing wasn’t enough to help spinoff The Scorpion King, though, which made less internationally ($74.2 million) than it did domestically ($91 million).

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Domestic gross: $104.3 million
International gross: $311.2 million
After Prince Caspian underperformed compared to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the rights for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series went from Disney to Fox, where they decided to do Dawn Treader on the cheap. The math didn’t pan out here, where it flopped even given its primo December release date, but overseas it raked in the 3D surcharge-augmented dough. It didn’t do quite as well as fellow not-actually-a-flop-even-though-people-say-it-is Prince Caspian ($141.6 million domestic, $278 million international), but it also cost $70 million less to make.

This post originally appeared on our content partner, Phactual.


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