When Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opened to ho-hum business in North America, the box-office obit writers rushed to bury it, declaring it as yet another flop for the fast waning career of Nicholas Cage.
In its first three days, the film made about $22 million, opening at number three. In the second week, when the film, which has Ashok Amritraj as one of its producers, plummeted by about 60 per cent, the verdict seemed certain--that it was a genuine tanker. While the Ghost Rider had grossed $81 million in North America in 12 days four years ago, the sequel in 3D collected only $32 million, box-office receipts showed.
'With his latest film, , sputtering over the holiday weekend, Nicolas Cage's career as an action star continues to hit the skids,' the Los Angeles Times wrote after the first weekend results came in. 'The 3-D sequel, starring the 48-year-old actor as a motorcycle-riding superhero, was expected to easily top the box office this weekend.'
But the box-office champ was the Denzel Washington crime caper Safe House, which in its second week amassed an impressive $23 million.
The myopic analysts were missing two important facts about Ghost Rider's successor. One, that the film was made for about $57 million, about 40 per cent less than the cost of its predecessor. And two, it was doing very good business abroad. In fact, it was No 1 outside America and Canada over the last weekend, earning a decent $22 million.
Box Office Mojo reported that nearly $8.2 million of that came from the first Russian weekend. And some $2.7 million came from Brazil in its second weekend. In both countries it was the No1 film. Box Office Mojo headlined its story: 'Ghost Rider 2 Catches Fire Overseas.'
By the time the action adventure completes its worldwide run -- it is yet to open in Australia, Japan, Mexico and Italy -- it could fly beyond $160 million, making it a safe commercial bet. Some box-office observers believe it can even reach $200 million.
It was a good week for Indian talent. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comic (mis)adventure set in India has Dev Patel sharing the screen with veterans Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, and is directed by Oscar winner John Madden.
It opened to good reviews and a robust $3.5 million weekend across the United Kingdom. It was the No 2 film there, toplined by the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Woman in Black which has emerged as a certified super hit
Most action and 3-D films do about 50 per cent more business abroad than in North America, and some also-ran movies in North America become big hits abroad. In Time, for instance, made just about $37 million in North America, but outside the domestic market, it has made $120 million, with some more dollars to come in the next few weeks. For a film that cost just about $40 million, a worldwide gross of $160 million is very impressive.
As for milestones, Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor starring in Ek Main Ekk Tu, which has done ordinary business in India, has become the biggest hit for Imran abroard. With over $1.2 million in North America, and about $900,000 each in UAE and UK territory, and with a worldwide $4 million, it is a record to be envied.