For the last two years around this time, I asked a question aloud to no one in particular: if we know the highest-grossing movies at the American box office each year, and we know the highest-grossing movies worldwide at all box offices, which movies were the year’s winners if we subtract America’s dollars? What were the rest of Planet Earth’s favorite popcorn flicks?
Box Office Mojo is a fantastic source for fans who can’t get enough number-crunching, being the premiere online source for film revenue tracking. You can check out their 2014 stats for domestic and total worldwide box office as separate lists, but if you want to know only what drove the rest of the world into their respective theaters regardless of American appetites, additional math is required to remove us from the Big Picture.
Lo and behold: I did the math for all of us. Presented below are the forty highest-grossing movies of 2014 outside the U.S. (I procrastinated this annual entry while waiting for American Sniper to run its course, but it’s now March and I’m ready to move on.)
With our formerly mighty American dollars excised from the stats and all the rankings scrambled, the preferences of the moviegoing public show interesting results:
Biggest jumps: Expendables 3 (+50); Need for Speed (+43); Robocop (+30); Penguins (+26); Exodus (+26); Dracula Untold (+24)
Biggest drops: American Sniper (-32); 22 Jump Street (-20); Neighbors (-19); The LEGO Movie (-18); Divergent (-17)
Movies in the American Top 50 that didn’t make the international Top 50: Heaven is for Real; Annie; Tammy; The Purge: Anarchy; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Think Like a Man Too
Movies that fell out of the International Top 40 after subtracting US dollars: The Imitation Game, The Equalizer, Dumb and Dumber To; Into the Woods; Unbroken; Ride Along
Other countries will forgive a lot for the sake of big-budget special effects. Presumably they’re not complaining as loudly as we do about sequelitis, short books adapted into gigantic series, villains overcrowding, or whether or not the sound effects mixing was to their liking.
Our Oscar nominees are starved for affection. Despite the comparatively lackluster response anywhere but here, American Sniper is still the highest grossing Best Picture nominee everywhere else. The world might’ve taken a greater interest if Interstellar had endeared itself more to Academy voters. Too late now.
Everyone likes (most) cartoons, but we were harder on sequels this year. Witness the jumps for Rio 2 and especially Penguins of Madagascar. Exotic settings and slapstick go a long way. On the other hand, overseas viewers seem to have as much love for The LEGO Movie as Oscar votes did. Either it hasn’t opened worldwide yet, or the toys have a more limited reach than we think. Of maybe other countries have something against Will Ferrell.