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International Movie Market Outshines US

IHS announced it reckons that the international market accounted for 58.4% of the total revenue produced by the top 100-grossing films in the United States, up from 57.3% in 2010.

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Unedited press release follows:

International Movie Market Continues to Increase Lead over US

El Segundo, Calif., April 5, 2012 — Continuing a nearly decade-long trend, international cinema box-office receipts in 2011 increased their lead over those of the United States, according to a sampling of last year’s highest-grossing movies outlined in a recent IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence report from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).

The international market last year accounted for 58.4 percent of the total revenue produced by the Top 100-grossing films in the United States, up from 57.3 percent in 2010. In comparison, the United States saw its share dwindle to 41.6 percent, down from 42.7 percent, as shown in the figure attached.

“Growth in international cinema markets is driving up the importance of non-U.S. releases to film studios, and new screen growth in territories like China, Brazil, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East has fundamentally altered the dynamics of a film’s release,” said David Hancock, senior principal analyst for cinema at IHS. “The turning point came in 2003 when international revenues generated more than the American box office for the first time, taking a 50.2 percent share. The international market finally edged past the once-unassailable U.S. position, relegating it to a minority stake with 49.8 percent share. Only a year earlier in 2002, the United States had clung to what was to become its last year of dominance at 53.0 percent, compared to 47.0 percent for the international segment.”

Genres built for travel
Not surprisingly, some film genres traveled better than others, while those that performed well in the U.S. market could not be counted on to perform as well abroad.

For instance, American sports dramas were culturally predisposed to success in the United States rather than overseas, given the nature of their subject. In 2011, two films in the sample generated 84.8 percent of their revenues in the States, compared to 15.2 percent internationally. Another genre that does not travel well is U.S. comedy, which covers both comedy drama and action comedy flicks. In comparison, romantic comedies fare better, even if they are still slightly weighted toward the U.S. market.

At the other end of the spectrum, a genre that has less trouble navigating success abroad is animation, which took 62.8 percent of revenues in overseas markets. Science fiction in its various forms also travels well, either as sci-fi thrillers at 68.4 percent or sci-fi action at 58.8 percent. Likewise performing credibly in international markets are action films at 57.0 percent and horror titles at 56.9 percent.

The Top 25 revenue-generating films rely heavily on the international market, which accounted for 58.8 percent of the films’ total revenue in 2011, compared to 52.5 percent for films ranked No. 26-50 in the U.S. box office and 43.2 percent for films ranked No. 51-75. This shows the key role played by just a few movies in driving overall growth for the international box office.

About IHS (
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS employs more than 5,500 people in more than 30 countries around the world.