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Surprise! World Loves 'America'

Jay Maidment/Marvel Entertainment

Fears that the patriotic super-soldier pic would turn off overseas audiences prove wrong.

America isn't a four- letter word overseas, after all. Many assumed Paramount and Marvel Studios' Captain America: The First Avenger would struggle in foreign markets because of the character's patriotic overtones.

But the film jumped $100 million during its second weekend of international release and has rolled out in only 41 markets, many of them smaller territories. That means Captain America has plenty of life left. Domestically, where the release had a one-week head start, it has earned $143.2 million.

The 3D pic is doing especially big business in Latin America and Southeast Asia, pacing ahead of Marvel's Thor in territories including Mexico and Brazil, where it has cumed $15.7 million and $14.5 million, respectively. It also has done solid business in the U.K. and Ireland ($11.1 million), Australia ($8.5 million) and even former Cold War foe Russia ($7.7 million).

Captain America touched down in Spain during the Aug. 5 to 7 weekend and grossed $2.5 million, 30 percent ahead of Warner Bros.' Clash of the Titans. And in Hong Kong, it opened to $2.5 million, 11 percent ahead of Thor and 24 percent better than 2008's Iron Man.

Box-office observers say Captain America is on track to gross $200 million offshore, about the same as this summer's X-Men: First Class.

Created during World War II (its first cover featured the superhero punching out Adolf Hitler), the Captain America comic tells the story of Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who dreams of fighting for the U.S. and the Allies. He gets his wish when he is transformed into a super-soldier and takes on the Nazis.

Through the years, the Captain America comic books have been published in at least 75 countries, creating a far-flung fan base.

Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps notes that the character is so well known outside the U.S. that every country but three -- Russia, Ukraine and South Korea -- opted to use the title Captain America: The First Avenger instead of The First Avenger (Paramount gave them a choice). Ask many in Hollywood, and they are under the assumption that foreign markets opted for the shorter title. Wrong.

Paramount's international campaign has focused on the film's action, rather than it being a World War II period piece. The studio also is tub-thumping the 3D, which remains a big lure overseas.

"We are very pleased with Captain America's international results so far, which clearly demonstrate the worldwide popularity of the iconic lead character," says Cripps, "as well as the continuing power of 3D at the box office."         

HOW THE SUMMER SUPERHEROES ARE DOING: The genre continues to whip up big business but has lost some of its charm at the domestic boxoffice.

Thor (Paramount/Marvel)

  • Budget: $150 mil
  • Domestic: $180 mil
  • International: $267.2 mil
  • Worldwide: $448 mil

X-Men: First Class (20th Century Fox)

  • Budget: $140 mil
  • Domestic: $145.3 mil
  • International: $203.8 mil
  • Worldwide: $349.1 mil

Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount/Marvel)

  • Budget: $140 mil
  • Domestic: $143.2 mil
  • International: $103 mil*
  • Worldwide: $246.2 mil

Green Lantern (Warner Bros.)

  • Budget: $200 mil
  • Domestic: $114.6 mil
  • International: $45.7 mil*
  • Worldwide: $160.3 mil

Figures in millions. * Still rolling out overseas.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Zade Rosenthal/Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures