The overseas success of "Dark Knight Rises" is a coup for Warner Bros., as Batman movies have previously performed better at home than abroad
If there was any doubt that Batman is no longer just an American hero, it's gone now.
"Dark Knight Rises" raised its overall international gross to $603 million — and its worldwide total to $1.041 billion — after adding an estimated $13 million from the overseas box office this weekend. In North America, it has taken in $437.8 million
The weekend's leading overseas moneymaker was "Expendables 2," which brought in $14 million from 23 markets to raise its overall international gross to $110 million. Universal's "Bourne Legacy" made $13 million from 49 regions and has now brought in $78 million from abroad.
The strong overseas numbers for "Dark Knight Rises" represent a coup for Warner Bros, because Batman movies have typically played better on the home front than abroad. “The Dark Knight,” is one of just two films among the 35 top worldwide moneymakers that did the majority of its business domestically (the other is “E.T.”).
"Dark Knight Rises" this weekend got a boost from China, where it took in $5.7 million. It has taken in $42 million from that country in just under two weeks.
It has posted strong numbers in every market it's opened in, led by the $86.5 million it brought in from the U.K. That still trails the $96.1 million "Dark Knight" did there, but that is the exception.
"Dark Knight Rises" has already matched its predecessor in Australia with $43 million. In South Korea, it's made $41 million, compared with the $24 million of "Dark Knight." In France, it's made $35 million compared to the earlier film's $27 million.
In Germany, it's $32 million for the "Dark Knight Rises" surpassed the $30 million for "Dark Knight"; in Mexico, it's $31 million to $25 million; in Japan, it's $24 million to $14 million; and in Russia, it has out-earned its predecessor $17 million to $8 million.
"Dark Knight Rises" has some built-in advantages. More and better theaters have been built abroad since "Dark Knight" played in 2008, and the earlier film wasn't allowed to screen in China.
Overall, 52 percent of the Batman franchise’s $3.6 billion in grosses have come from North America. Compare that with the “Harry Potter” films from Warner Bros., which drew just 31 percent of their $7.7 billion gross domestically, or the studio’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which made 35 percent of its $2.9 billion at home, and you see what an anomaly Batman has become.
Michael Uslan, a producer on “The Dark Knight Rises” and all of the previous Batman films, said before the film's release that he believes this is because Batman has been an American hero.
“Batman represents 75 years of folklore in the United States,” Uslan told TheWrap, “but the rest of the world has only known him for the past 10 years.”
He gives director Nolan much of the credit for broadening the character’s appeal.
“Batman is the only superhero in the world without super powers,” Uslan noted, “He’s just a man, but a man who as a child watched his parents murdered in front of him and decided from that point on to fight for justice. That’s primal, and provides an appeal that transcends cultures and borders. Nolan has really brought that out.”