Coming Soon — To A Theater Nowhere Near You Feel like you're the last to see the new Hollywood blockbuster? You may be right — because studios have started premiering big films overseas before they come to the United States.
NPR logo

Coming Soon — To A Theater Nowhere Near You

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Coming Soon — To A Theater Nowhere Near You



Coming Soon — To A Theater Nowhere Near You

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. The movie "Battleship," based on the board game, opens today in the U.S. It is familiar summer fare - it has firepower on a military scale, it has ear-punishing pyrotechnics, it has aliens and it even has Liam Neeson. But Bob Mondello says in one respect, "Battleship" is an outlier.


BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: "Battleship" may not be any good, but it is undeniably ours - American from the water up, a Universal Studios picture about an alien invasion crammed with special effects from Industrial Light and Magic and set largely on American warships.

Still, while this sci-fi epic is definitely homegrown, American audiences are the last ones on Earth who are getting to see it. "Battleship" first hoisted anchor six weeks ago in Japan. It cruised to Europe a week later then steamed into Russia and Pakistan and has since docked in every movie port of call on the planet except the U.S., Canada and Paraguay.

That release plan would have been unthinkable a decade or so ago, when it was a given that a Hollywood film opened first in the U.S., but American box office has remained basically stable for the last decade while overseas box office has skyrocketed. And with most blockbusters now earning twice as much overseas as they do in this country, it makes sense to take advantage of scheduling quirks elsewhere.


MONDELLO: "The Avengers," for instance, opened here on May 4th, but it opened a week earlier in 39 other countries because May 1st is a national holiday in most of the world, Labor Day. May Day crowds everywhere from France to Brazil to Hong Kong helped the avenging superheroes earn almost $200 million for their labors before they nailed down the biggest opening weekend in American history.

And while it took "Battleship" six weeks rather than one, it's done much the same thing. This isn't a magic bullet, though: Sometimes it's good for a film to open here and get an international buzz going before it heads overseas.


MONDELLO: Industry observers say that "The Hunger Games," which was a massive hit with all age groups in this country, might have benefited internationally had it waited a week or two to open elsewhere. That way, the big American opening would have raised the film's profile with older audiences overseas, and it might have played to more than just teenagers initially.

The reverse can also happen. The animated kid-flick "Rio," for example, is thought to have benefitted here from a sort of international tryout tour.


MONDELLO: School holidays in other countries led to "Rio" opening overseas a week before it opened in the U.S., and it was a smash, that weekend's biggest opening worldwide. The American press picked up on the film's success, and a kid-flick that had been struggling to make an impression opened a good deal better than expected.


MONDELLO: This sort of thing also happens with pictures aimed at older audiences. Later this summer, "The Amazing Spider-Man" will amaze Japan and New Zealand five days before it amazes the U.S. And if you've been waiting decades for Ridley Scott to make a prequel to "Alien" and just can't wait any longer, now you'll have an option: Hop on a plane to Europe.


MONDELLO: Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" will open a week early in Europe to get ahead of soccer's Eurocup, which its producers think will be a huge distraction for their male target audience.

If, on the other hand, you're desperate to see the new Bourne movie, the first one without Matt Damon, stay right where you are.


MONDELLO: "The Bourne Legacy" may globe-trot all over the world, but it will open in the U.S. on August 3rd and won't reach most of the locations where it was shot until almost a month later. I'm Bob Mondello.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.