I found it odd that Battleship opened in most of the world about a month ahead of the U.S. release, and not just because Peter Berg's boardgame adaptation is reportedly full of "flag-waving jingoism." But that is a movie that will get terrible reviews here and Universal wanted to clean up in foreign markets in order to sell the pricey movie as a proven hit by the time it reaches us in America in mid May. I think that was the explanation I heard anyway.
Now I find it even stranger that Disney has let a number of overseas territories get to see The Avengers more than a week before domestic audiences do. This is a movie garnering tremendous reviews and also has a tremendous franchise brand appeal in the U.S. Moviegoers here are dying to see this colossal comic book adaptation, and the source material is pure Americana. France getting it nine days before us is like Americans getting the next Asterix & Obelix movie nine days before them, I think.
So why are we getting our blockbusters so late?
I've tried to find the most logical and complete answer, but I'm still unsure of any certain reason. At first I thought the World Cup was happening this summer and the soccer-obsessed part of the globe (i.e. everyone but us) needed the films ahead of the event, a la Iron Man 2 opening elsewhere first back in 2010. But this is not the case, and the suggestion that the Euro Cup is happening this summer doesn't work the same way. Those games don't occur through June, and while they seem to be the cause of Prometheus hitting Europe first and G.I. Joe: Retaliation hitting weeks later, it shouldn't have any effect on The Avengers.
Neither should the Summer Olympics, which because it's being held in London may be the reason for later releases for The Bourne Legacy and Total Recall in the UK. Wasn't this usually the case, though, movies delayed over there rather than over here? Then piracy increased and appeared to be a good reason for simultaneous openings everywhere worldwide on the same date. But now it's gone the other way. And guess what? There are bootlegs of The Avengers out and about already. In English.
Other excuses for the international luck? It seemingly makes sense that a major action tentpole opened in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 for their big memorial holiday, Anzac Day. The same happened with Thor last year. It debuted in Australia on April 21, a week before most of the world and two weeks before the U.S. But why can't these Marvel movies open in the U.S. at the same time? Maybe because we've already moved the summer movie season up enough and going into April would be silly?
I don't buy that or much else. I'm sure it all has to do with money, whatever the reasoning. Someone who follows the biz more than I will surely fill me in soon enough. I wouldn't even care so much if we weren't in an age where I can't go on Twitter or read blog headlines without fearing spoilers about The Avengers weeks in advance of my only opportunity to see it, first from fellow critics and then from moviegoers in other parts of the world, as well as anyone impatiently checking it out via pirated copy.
Not that I should be complaining. I will see it two nights before the regular American moviegoer, and three and a half months ahead of Japan.
I polled my Twitter followers on this topic, and here are some responses:
Are You Annoyed The Avengers Opened Overseas First?
An emphatic YES - @andrewplotkin
Yes. Very annoyed. - @mrblue24
Absolutely! Hulk smash! - @mr3film
Nope. I'm...baffled. But I'm not annoyed. - @mousterpiece
No. I only just learned of it, and regardless of motivations the notion of making (up) BO overseas is no longer a myth it seems. - @BernardoVillela
My answer, verbatim: "Who fucking gives a shit?" - @vrizov
Couldn't care less - @SebastopolDocs
Seems rather silly that a huge action film destined to be a hit like The Avengers can't open on the same day around the globe. - @nixskits2
Opening mega blockbusters this weekend would screw up the timing of any number of regional film fests. - @jettek