Hollywood movies fail to find audiences in America,
it is often claimed that these movies redeem their losses
overseas. The assumption here is that the box-office
receipts abroad are pure gravy for the movie studios.
For example, the usually financially-savvy Wall
Street Journal reported on November 19, 2004 that
three notable "duds" in America-- Troy,
The Terminal and King Arthur-- "ended
up turning handsome profits" because "in each
case, box-office receipts from outside the U.S. far
outweighed domestic returns." It then cited
impressive sounding numbers: Troy "made"
$363 million internationally;The Terminal,
$96.3 million internationally, and King Arthur,
$149.8 million abroad-- as if, these receipts represented
reality, however, these impressive-sounding receipts
represented the foreign theaters' revenue, not the studios'
share of them. In fact, the
studios get an even smaller share of the foreign than
of the American box-office. Last year, the studios'
share averaged about 40 percent of ticket sales. And
from those revenues studios have to pay for foreign
advertising, prints, taxes, insurance, translations,etc.
Once those expenses are deducted, the studios are lucky
to wind up with 15% of what is reported as the foreign
Consider, a typical movie--
Disney's Gone In 60 Seconds . Its reported
"foreign gross" was $129,477,395. Of that
sum, Disney got $55, 979.966, of that it paid out $37,
986, 053 in expenses.
Foreign Advertising... $25,
$ 5, 660.837
Foreign Taxes ...
$ 5, 077,286
Foreign versions.. $
Currency Conversion $
Foreign Trade dues $
After paying these expense, Disney was left with just
$17,993,913 -- a far cry from the reported $129,477,395
"gross". And the film is still over
$153 million in the red. So while the foreign
box-office helps out, it does not necessarily make a