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Tintin: Opening in Theaters Far from You

Hollywood studios increasingly are releasing movies overseas first

By the time director Steven Spielberg walks the red carpet on Dec. 11 for the New York premiere of his animated movie The Adventures of Tintin, the film about a boy reporter in search of sunken treasure will already have sold well over $200 million in tickets—all far from the U.S. Tintin, featuring Jamie Bell and Daniel Craig, is based on the graphic novels by Belgian author and illustrator Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. The film opened first in Europe in late October, then, three weeks later, in Asia. When U.S. audiences get their first peek at Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy on Dec. 21, the film will already have played in more than 50 countries, including France, Germany, China, Japan, and even tiny Estonia.

U.S. studios are simply following the money. This year, moviegoers in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia will spend a combined $21 billion on movie tickets, nearly twice as much as the $12.2 billion spent in the U.S. and Canada, according to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers. Box-office sales in some big emerging economies will grow by double digits annually through 2015, PwC predicts. “There’s tremendous expansion going on outside the U.S., which is a pretty mature market,” says Jeff Blake, vice-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tintin’s distributor in most overseas markets.