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Hollywood movies open abroad, then come home

Actor Robert Downey Jr. attends "The Avengers" premiere. The film is expected to be a big hit this weekend. It’s already garnered more than $250 million overseas. Why didn’t it debut at home?

Jeremy Hobson: The movie "The Avengers" opens in the U.S. today. It's already brought in more than $250 million around the world.

If you're surprised that an American-made Disney flick is coming out in America second -- here's Sally Herships with an explanation.


Sally Herships: Why are movies opening in all these other countries before the U.S.? It's a numbers thing. The rest of the world is:

Sharon Waxman: The big kahuna when it comes to the amount of money that's flowing in through the box office.

Sharon Waxman is editor of the Wrap.com. She says almost 70 percent of tickets for American movies are bought overseas. You used to need American premiers to sell them. Not anymore.

Waxman: In Russia and in China they are building cineplexes at this incredibly rapid rate. These are places where there's growth to be had.

So who gets the film first? Depends on culture and calendars. Waxman says Europeans don't like to hit theaters in the summer. No studio wants to compete with another blockbuster. And sometimes it's good to build sales momentum. "Battleship" doesn't open here for another two weeks. But if you want to catch it this weekend, I hear it's playing in Mumbai.

In New York, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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