Box Office Shocker: 'Captain America' Earns More Overseas than in U.S.

Susie Allnutt/Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures

To date, the superhero tentpole has grossed $178 million internationally, compared to $173.5 million at the domestic box office.

TORONTO -- Defying perception, Paramount and Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The First Avenger has now earned more overseas than in North America.

To date, the superhero tentpole has grossed $178 million internationally, compared to $173.5 million at the domestic box office. The overseas tally includes a strong $5 million opening in China over the Sept. 9-11 weekend.

It’s hardly uncommon for a summer event pic -- and especially a 3D title -- to do bigger business internationally, but many assumed Captain America wouldn’t play as well among foreign audiences because of its title.

Captain America’s storyline itself is European centric, and follows Chris Evans’ character as he transforms from a scrawny kid from Brooklyn to super-soldier and joins forces with the allies to stop the Nazis.

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“It’s done very well in the U.S., and fortunately it’s done very well, and even slightly better, at the international box office,” Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps told THR, noting that Captain America has yet to open in Japan.

Early on, there was a debate within Paramount and Marvel as to whether having Captain America in the title would be off-putting to international distributors, and so the studio offered an alternative title, The First Avenger.

Cripps turned out to be correct in his hunch that the Captain America character has such strong brand recognition -- the comic books have been published in at least 75 countries -- that foreign distributors would happily choose Captain America: The First Avenger.

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Only three countries opted for The First Avenger -- Russia, Ukraine and South Korea. Everywhere else, it’s being released as Captain America: The First Avenger.

Directed by Joe Johnston, Captain America has done especially well in Latin America, where it has grossed $21 million in Brazil, and another $21 million in Mexcio. All told, Latin America has generated $57 million in revenues, besting the $54 million earned by Thor, Paramount and Marvel’s other 2011 summer superhero film, in those territories.

The reason is two-fold: There’s a huge 3D market in Latin America, while Captain America is a particularly beloved superhero in that region of the world.

In Europe, Captain America has done strong business, although it hasn’t reached the levels of Thor or Fox’s 2011 summer offering X-Men: First Class. For example, the pic has grossed $15.5 million in the U.K., versus $22.5 million for Thor.

Captain America has grossed $10 million in France, $9 million in Italy, $8.5 million in Spain and $5 million Germany. Russia’s tally is $8.5 million, and Australia’s, $11.5 million.