Korean Zombies and Cartoon Characters Battle It Out For Global Boxoffice Dominance

By Karen Krizanovich | July 29, 2020 10:31 am PDT

Global data kindly provided by Comscore

With cinema starting to bloom open across the globe – with Beijing opening up while spikes as seen in Dalian shuttered cinemas in that area – the theatrical industry is stirring from its ventilator. It remains to be seen what state the patient will be in by the time cinematic salvation comes in the form of Christopher Nolan’s mighty “Tenet”. Opening in 70 countries (so far) on August 31 (so far), Regal (Cineworld) and AMC are opening to welcome the tentpole when it debuts in America on September 3. One third of Cineworld’s European venues are open and operating. (We are too polite to mention the AMC-ComcastNBCUniversal PVoD sweetheart deal.)

China’s embracing Robert Downey Jr.’s quite good Welsh accent in the family favourite “Dolittle” which is nowhere near the Dr Doolittle of Rex Harrison days. Second in command at the box office is SPE thriller “Bloodshot” which led the way in Chinese market during its first opening weekend. The world’s largest film market by screen count, China sends the message that, like Mars Needing Women, it needs new titles to bring people out of their homes, into cinemas where they will wear masks and sit in an auditorium at 30% capacity. It’s a start and audiences are keen to get away from the small screens they’ve been forced to look at for far too long. With Chinese blockbusters held over from the Spring Festival nowhere to be seen, half of the top ten films in China this weekend were from Tinsel Town.

The news that Pixar’s “Onward” – now weighing in at over USD $100 million cumulatively worldwide – is first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth in thirteen territories tells you one thing: family films with an emotional core sell well right now. This goes particularly for Pixar’s imaginative tale of two supernatural brothers trying to bring their late father back to life – in a nice way (more on bringing back the dead in a minute). “Onward” is currently No. 1 in both Portugal and the UK/Ireland. Wilder news is that UK/Ireland cinema audiences are going out to watch (in descending order) “Onward”, “Trolls World Tour”, and “Empire Strikes Back”, followed by Danish animated family feature “Drømmebyggerne” (“Dreambuilders”) and “Dirty Dancing” 30th anniversary special. Romance in the isles, obviously.

We all love Scooby Do and so “Scoob!” – with $686,529 world wide admissions – proves it. It’s a certain Scooby Snack, this animated feature, which has pushed adult comedies right off the top mark in France in its third week at 605 locations. It’s number one in the Netherlands (three weeks) and Austria (two weeks) as well. Spain and Iceland like it enough to put it at second place, having been only released for two weeks in those territories too.

Finding a significant ‘following’ at the box office.

Don’t get “Follow Me” – second in Australia at two weeks out on 165 screens and sixth in both The Netherlands and New Zealand – mixed up with the USA’s number five (previously higher) “Followed” (2018) at six weeks released showing in 29 locations. If you want a scary film, put “Follow” in the title (re: “It Follows”, which is a fine film and one which is worth finding on a big screen). America loves its horror during a horrible pandemic and James Franco’s “The Rental” went straight to number one at its first week of release, showing at a remarkable 251 locations. Oddly enough, “The Rental” also made its mark in Sweden and Norway, going 2nd best in each territory at 1 week of release at 37 locations and 95 locations respectively – nowhere near the mega American number of 251 locations but what the heck. It also stands at number nine in the Netherlands after one week at 60 locations.

US audiences loved blokey heist-drama “The Big Ugly” into second place after one week at 68 locations. “Relic”, which has done so well, hanging on for fout weeks at 85 locations and only now slipping to third place. Even the trailer for “Relic” will scare the bejesus out of you.

But if you really want to be scared, catch the second train to Busan: “Train to Busan 2: Peninsula” is a rolling thunder review of zombies taking Singapore (two weeks released, 25 locations), Malaysia (two weeks released, 148 locations), Taiwan (two weeks released, 148 locations) and South Korea (two weeks released, 2103 screens). This Korean beauty is wiping the floor with opening cinemas which have nothing new from Hollywood to show.

If you’ve got children, you’ll know the “Trolls World Tour”. This UIP title certainly lived up to its name, with worldwide takings actual cinemas standing at USD $1,074,725. Denmark puts it tops this weekend at 97 locations after four weeks out. Second in UK/Ireland and NZ, it stands third in Iceland and fourth in Austria. “Trolls” is proof of the durability of family favourites.

The great thing about cinema is that each country tends to march to its own drummer in some regards. Look at Germany. For the second week in a row, the incredibly irrationally violent horror-stalker thriller “Unhinged” starring Rusty Crowe remains at first place at 438 locations. If you loved “Deathwish”, you’ll love “Unhinged”.

Judd Apatow’s look at a comedian who is seen mainly on Saturday Night Live, Pete Davidson starrer “The King of Staten Island” has ended up in the top spot in Sweden and Australia, after one week and two weeks respectively. New Zealand isn’t far behind with the film in third after 2 weeks on 65 screens. Seems a bit niche, but who said really bad tattoos and comedy don’t go together?

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” is firmly at second and third in New Zealand and Australia. After two and four weeks respectively, the diverse period take on Dickens’ classic is delightfully lighting up 102 and 233 screens.  “Pinocchio” – not the one shelved by Disney but the other one – tops the chart in Belgium after three weeks at 87 locations and second in The Netherlands after one week at 81 locations.

And, finally, as Japan keeps all of its top four films local and all from TOHO Distributors all showing on over 300 screens each, there’s a little light from Greece. Where else would you find, at third spot after two weeks on 20 screenings, “To Catch A Thief” (1955) still raking it in? That’s entertainment.

Karen Krizanovich