Foreign Audiences Loyal to 'A Star Is Born' as Film Passes $350 Million Globally

Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
'A Star Is Born'

The Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical drama had a slow start in some international territories but strong word of mouth has kept the movie in theaters: “The hold on this film has been remarkable.”

Foreign audiences are sticking with A Star is Born.

The Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga drama did not immediately set the world alight on its fall release, but as the Warner Bros. title enters its ninth week, strong word of mouth is keeping the movie in theaters internationally.

The box office drop for A Star is Born — the revenue slip a film shows from one weekend to the next — has been tiny. This past weekend, the $40 million feature passed the $350 million mark globally, including at $164.4 million take internationally.   

“For this year, it's the film that has had the best hold and consistency throughout,” says Tom Molter, executive vp international distribution at Warners. “On our second weekend, we only dropped 9 percent (internationally). Our third weekend was 16 percent ... Even this past weekend, our eighth, it was 30 percent drop, which is still phenomenal.”

A Star is Born's holding power is partly due to Warner's staggered release strategy, which has seen the movie roll out more leisurely across the world, as opposed to the quick burn day-and-date drop of a typical tentpole. A Star is Born is yet to release in Japan — where it goes out Dec. 21.

With the exception of a handful of international territories — the U.K., where box office for the title is $36.7 million and counting, Australia ($20.7 million) and France ($14.6 million) — foreign audiences have not gone as gaga for A Star is Born as domestic fans. The $191.5 million domestic gross dwarfs the film's international take, making for a 54 percent to 46 percent domestic-to-international box office split, low for studio standards.

But the film's staying power is undeniable. In Australia, in its sixth weekend, A Star is Born earned $918,000 on 315 screens, a slip of just 31 percent. In the U.K., in its eighth weekend, the film grossed $540,000, a fall of just 43 percent.

“I think the (positive) word of mouth is really bringing people to the theaters and there is a lot of repeat viewing,” says Blair Rich, president, worldwide marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “People are so emotionally connected to these characters and to this particular story in a way that I don't really think people experience right now in the theaters.”

Indeed, while A Star is Born has been compared to upbeat musical-themed films, such as Fox's Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (which has earned $474 million worldwide, 67.5 percent of it outside of North America) and Universal's Abba-filled comedy Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again — a $394 million global gross, 69 percent of it from international — Cooper's directorial debut is actually a quite dark, R-rated drama exploring themes of celebrity, substance abuse and suicide. It is also notable that both Bohemian Rhapsody and Mamma Mia are rated PG-13, opening them up, potentially, to a much larger audience. Then there is the issue of the music itself. A Star is Born's country music-infused soundtrack likely has less global appeal than the jukebox-ready tunes from Abba and Queen that prop up Mamma Mia and Bohemian Rhapsody.

“People are putting this in the same category as musicals, but this is an R-rated film,” Molter notes, “perhaps the most recent comparable movies would be romantic dramas like Me Before You or The Fault in Our Stars, but they had a much younger-skewing audience and were PG-13, which makes the trajectory of A Star is Born all the more remarkable.”

And it might not be over yet. A Star is Born is coming to the end of its run internationally, but is getting major award buzz — both Cooper and Gaga look like locks for acting nominations and the film's soundtrack is certain to be a frontrunner. If, come awards season, A Star is Born emerges as a bonafide contender, it could provide the film with a second wind. Previous Warner titles, including Argo and Gravity, had early fall releases akin to A Star is Born but enjoyed reissues in several territories, and accompanying box office bumps, after they became Oscar frontrunners.