Alita: Battle Angel vs What Men Want, in the International Market

What movies should invest for a return in international markets? The film industry, with each movie, essentially is like any individual company asking themselves that same question. One of the biggest, is there a demand for this product in other countries?

As we look at the past weekends box office numbers, we can see reinforcing of the ideas of what play well in foreign markets and what plays well in the US. Comedies don’t typically play well in foreign markets, as a lot of the jokes come from the language and culture they are made in. This was most definitely the case with What Women Want. It has grossed almost $40 million domestically and less than $3 Million Internationally.

Alita: Battle Angel is different, for several reasons. First, it is a non-US property to begin with. Coming from Japanese source material, it has already bridged the language and social boundary which is the biggest hurdle for any movie to do well internationally. The biggest hurdle for a puece like this, is to create recognition and appeal by the US market where it is not as familiar. Because it doesn’t seem like Alita has done this, mainly relying on the name of James Cameron (A Producer on the movie, not the director) which has typically served the studios well, with Titanic, Avatar, Terminator, Aliens, etc, it is banking on that.

As the Producers most like figured it doing well internationally, they still expected it to do more domestically. Unfortunately, because it hasn’t, it is heavily relying on the International markets to make them a profit. It has had a dismal $28 Million domestic opening weekend and (as of this writing) grossed less than $50 million, the foreign markets are different. The Producers opened the film first internationally. And it has served them well, having grossed almost $100 million. They are clearly pushing and focusing on the international market and have been for a while.

Since the movie’s production budget was $170 million (this of course does not include marketing or percentages taken out when revenue is received), it has a long way to go to make the owners a profit. The producers are no doubt working hard to make a strong opening in China (one of the largest foreign markets) and Japan (home to the source material) to help push it into the black.

What do you think these markets hold for it in the coming weekend? I will update this ending come Monday (Feb 25th)

Update (2/25)

The numbers for the international market were very good for this past weekend. It went from almost $57 million revenue to almost $94 million revenue (earned during those weekend, not cumulative). The specific numbers for China and Japan have not been published yet, but the estimates have shown how much of a jump. I will publish the specific numbers once they are given.

Update (2/26)

The numbers from China have officially been posted. Alita had an opening weekend just shy of $64 million. (The US opening weekend was less than $30 million. The numbers from Japan have not been confirmed and made official, yet.

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for your post. Interesting dilemma. I know that in some markets, a successful launch in the US is used in the marketing of a product in other markets. But in the case of launching a movie in China and Japan, I don’t know if the disappointing launch in the US would necessarily be a showstopper. You write that they have already grossed $100 million internationally but that was in other non-US markets than China and Japan you mean? Do you know in what markets it had some impact? In terms of China and Japan this weekend? Combined gross sales of $50 million is my guess!

    1. Yes, other markets besides China and Japan, which it will open in this weekend. It has opened in almost 30 countries, the largest grossing being Korea and the UK (10+ and 7+ million each, respectively).

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