Usually movies that do better abroad than in the US are action films. They don’t require much understanding of the English language. If the story stinks or the dialogue is bad, foreigners don’t care so much. They want to see movie stars.
Then how do you explain “The Wolf of Wall Street”? Sacre bleu: “Wolf” has racked up $160 million internationally, versus $102 million here in the U.S. All those long speeches! Apparently they don’t matter. The French have spent $25 million on “Wolf.” Germany has forked over $20 million. Spain, Italy, Poland have each embraced this three hour tale of debauchery and greed. I wish I knew what Quaaludes translated into in those places!
Of course, the movie’s been a big hit in the U.K. and Australia, but that was to be expected.
“Wolf” has turned into the best bet a big studio has made on a long shot in a long time. Everyone worried the three hours running time would turn off audiences. There was also the math– a three hour movie plays fewer times a day. Plus, Martin Scorsese almost didn’t make a release date. He edited the movie in his home, in kitchens and bathrooms, around the clock. So it’s a very happy ending.
Domestically, “Wolf” has a way to go before it surpasses “Shutter Island” ($128 mil) and “The Departed” ($132 million). But if it can hold on through the Oscars on March 2, the Jordan Belfort story could become Scorsese’s biggest grossing film.