Box Office: 8 International Hits That Challenged the Studio Tentpoles

They may not have made it to a multiplex near you, but in 2014 these local-language releases gave Hollywood a run for its money (without a sequel or superhero in the bunch)

This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


Xavier Dolan has been an art house favorite for years, but with his melodrama about a single mom raising a violent son, the Quebecois wunderkind has his bona fide hit. Mommy is one of the few French-language films to cross over to English Canada and has earned more than $3 million at the local box office.

Spanish Affair

This raucous culture-clash comedy -- with the cultures here being Spanish and Basque -- has become, with a $77 million gross, the second-biggest film ever in Spain, behind only Avatar. That's even more surprising considering the country's piracy problem.

Read more 'Spanish Affair' Breaks All-Time Box-Office Records in Spain

Breakup Buddies

A failed singer coming out of a messy divorce hits the road with his loose-cannon drinking buddy, and chaos ensues. Indie director Hao Ning (No Man's Land) blasted by the blockbusters with this low-budget comedy, which grossed nearly $190 million.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents

Director Han-min Kim tapped into a deep vein of national pride with this 16th century war film, which recounts the victory of Korea's Admiral Yi, who, with just 12 battleships, defeated a Japanese fleet of 330 ships. The film scared off all competitors, earning $132 million in South Korea.

Read more South Korean Box Office: 'Roaring Currents' Beast 'Avatar' to Become Biggest Film of All Time

Viy 3D

Combining a classic story of demonic possession by 19th century writer Nikolai Gogol with jump-at-you 3D horror, director Oleg Stepchenko turned out Russia's biggest film of the year, with a $34 million gross.

The Perfect Dictatorship

In Luis Estrada's political satire, a corrupt state governor signs a billionaire secret agreement with the country's biggest TV network to clean up his image and make him presidential material. The film, which holds a cracked mirror up to the real-life tragedies in Mexican society, grossed more than $14 million.

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Bollywood always beats Hollywood in India, but this year's big surprise was the Hindi hit Queen. It broke the rule by focusing on a woman -- actress Kangana Ranaut -- who, after being dumped by her fiance, decides to honeymoon by herself in Paris and Amsterdam. Made for around $2 million, Queen grossed $16 million in India alone.

What We Do in the Shadows

It's rare that a New Zealand film not featuring Hobbits cracks the charts, but this horror comedy about three vampires struggling with everyday teen troubles tapped the right vein Down Under, grossing more than $2 million.

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