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Dec 19 2016

Subtitles Fading But These Soldiers March On...

Year in Review.Every afternoon,a new wrap-up.Today an exhaustive list of how foreign films performed at the US box office...

Perhaps no film is a more perfect encapsulation of the 2016 reality for foreign films in the US marketplace than Netflix'sCrouching Tiger Hidden Dragonsequel.The first was an international theatrical phenomenon and a true blockbuster delivering over $100 million in the United States alone.The sequel sixteen years later was in English and went straight to streaming.

Despite the inhospitable 21st century climate nowadays,specialty distributors fight on to deliver some variety to the US marketplace.Here's how they fared this year.These numbers were pulled from Box Office Mojo and we tried to be as thorough as possible (though we did skip documentaries and animated features which are sometimes screened in both dubbed and subtitled versions in the same marketplace)

By US Box Office Gross - final numbers.Title links go to reviews.

01Dangal$12.3 (India)

02No Manches Frida$11.5 (USA)available to stream on IMDb

03Sultan$6.2 (India)
Bollywood films account for a big portion of each year's foreign film grosses in the US.Up until the release ofDangalat Christmas,none were mightier for most of 2016 than the sports drama starring Salman Khan (pictured above).

Oscar Finalists,Isabelle Huppert,and buzzy Korean hits after the jump...

04Ae Dil Hai Mushkil$4.2 (India)

05Kabali$3.9 (India)

06A Man Called Ove$3.3 (Sweden)
This Swedish comedy,adapted from the best seller,is the highest grossing foreign language nominee sinceIda(2014) which grossed nearly $4 million.Ovehas outgrossed all other nominees besides that Polish winner in the past three years of this particular Oscar race.For what it's worth the highest grossing Foreign Film nominee or winner this decade is Asghar Farhadi'sA Separation(2011) which grossed $7 million in theatrical release in the US,even surpassing Michael Haneke's Best Picture nomineeAmour(2012)

07The Mermaid$3.2 (China)
Worldwide this elaborate comic fantasy from Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) was a true phenonemon grossing over half a billion.Yet in the US...

08Compadres$3.1 (Mexico)

09Ip Man 3$2.6 (Hong Kong)available to stream on Netflix
Donnie Yen had an amazing 2016.He had his biggestIp Manhit in the States,co-starred in Netflix'sCrouching Tigersequel,and is a fan favorite in the new Star Wars filmRogue Oneas a mysterious blind man.

10Kapoor & Sons - Since 1921$2.6 (India)

11Dear Zindagi$2.3 (India)
Shah Rukh Khan continues to be one of Bollywood's biggest draws.

12Elle$2.3 (France)
Though the film was dropped from Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (argh!) Huppert took the Golden Globe in a surprise victory,亚博主页got nominatedfor Best Actresswith some of the best reviews of her legendary career,and SPC managed to keep it in theaters for months.A slow burn / great run for a provocative actressy film

13A Aa$2.3 (India)

14Fan$2.3 (India)

15Train To Busan$2.1 (South Korea)
This zombie action flick was a big enough hit worldwide that Hollywood isalready ramping up to remake it in the English language.

16The Handmaiden$2 (South Korea)
Park Chan-wook's outre adaptation of the lesbian novel "Fingersmith"was a critical sensation and now Park Chan Wook's biggest box office success in the US.It's also winningcritics awards(as well it should).SadlySouth Korea didn't submit it for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars亚博主页and Oscar voters ignored it in the craft categories where it still most definitely belonged.

17Desierto$2.0 (Mexico)
Alfonso Cuarón's son directed this thriller about an evil redneck (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) hunting down illegal immigrants (Gael García Bernal among them).It barely needed subtitles as the dialogue was sparse at best.

18Shin Godzilla$1.9 (Japan)

19MS Dhoni: The Untold Story$1.8 (India)

20Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer$1.7 (Mexico)

21Neerja$1.5 (India)available to stream on Netflix

22Julieta$1.4 (Spain)
Oscar voters didn't help push this one over for audiences.Though still in release it's underperforming for an Almodóvar title which can usually manage at least $3 million in the States.

23Toni Erdmann$1.4 (Germany)
Itlost Best Foreign Filmbut critics did what they could to spread the word helping its gross up a strong million plus.Otherwise the length seemed to scare people off a bit and it never became as popular with audiences as it was with critics.

24Embrace of Serpent$1.3 (Colombia)
This mesmerizng nominee forBest Foreign Film at least year's Oscars亚博主页was a sizeable success in theaters,just behind the Oscar winningSon of Saulin terms of box office (the latter not on this chart as it opened in 2015).

25Housefull 3$1.3 (India)

26Mohenjo Daro$1.2 (India)

27Wazir$1.1 (India)

28Rustom$1.0 (India)

29The Innocents$1.0 (France)
The drama about a doctor discovering a convent of pregnant nuns in the immediate aftermath of World War II was initially France's biggest import butElleeventually doubled its gross with the help of all the Oscar buzz

30Baar Baar Dekho$981K (India)

31Neruda$939K (Chile)
The Oscar snub came at a bad time for this release but this playful fascinating biopic of sorts still did well in arthouse theaters.

32Gentleman$897K (India)

33Ki & Ka$857K (India)

34Premam$828K (India)

35Dishoom$812K (India)

36Operation Mekong$792K (China)

37The Wailing$786K (South Korea)available to stream on Netflix

38Chongqing Hot Pot$779K (China)

39I Belonged to You$744K (China)

40The Monkey King 2 in 3D$709K (China)

41El Jeremias$647K (Mexico)

42A Tale of Love and Darkness$568K (Israel/USA)
BeforeJackiehit theaters,Natalie Portman made her multilingual directorial debut with this film based on the memoirs of Amos Oz's youth.She plays the writer's mother.

43Tunnel$568K (South Korea)

44Cold War 2$560K (China)

45The Age of Shadows$541K (South Korea)
South Korea's Oscar submission,a period espionage drama,did pretty well despite a lack of media interest.

46Fitoor$528K (India)

47Befikre$498K (India)

48Marguerite$497K (France)available to stream on Netflix
France's version of theFlorence Foster Jenkinsstory preceded the Meryl Streep movie into theaters this Spring.At home in France it won fourCesar awards(Actress,Production Design,Costume Design,and Sound) in categories that could theoretically happen for Oscar nominations for Streep's movie,too.

49Detective Chinatown$474K (China)

50Our Little Sister$467K (Japan)

51Luck-Key$466K (South Korea)

52Bagghi$438K (India)

53I Am Not Madame Bovary$435K (China)
Fan Bingbing hasnt become an arthouse star in the US the way some of her Asian superstar predecessors did (like Zhang Ziyi in the Aughts or Gong Li in the 90s) but she'll always have the red carpet and international franchise cameo appearances (Iron Man 3,X-Men Days of Future Past.)

54Things to Come$388K (France)
Isabelle Huppert'sothercritical darling of the year,about a philosophy professor facing life changes

55The Wasted Times$386K (China)

56Mr Donkey$356K (China)

57Happy Bhaag Jayegi$351K (India)

58Kahaani 2$350K (India)

59LORD Legend of Ravaging Dynasties$350K (South Korea)

60Te3n$331K (India)

61Kaashmora$327K (India)

62Mia Madre$303K (Italy)

63Ixcanul$295K (Guatemala)
$300,000 might seem paltry for a box office sum but if you've seenIxcanul,a resolutely anti-commercial movie about a poverty-stricken family living near a volcano and trying to marry off their teenage daughter,you'll be impressed with how well it fared.Especially since there's no real support structure for Guatemalan movies in arthouses.Obviously Chinese,Korean,and Indian films (all over this chart) have distributors dedicated solely to selling them in the US market.Not so with this one so well done.

64The People vs Fritz Bauer$288K (Germany)

65Aquarius$285K (Brazil) Such a great picture.Why didn't it become a big arthouse hit?Was it the length?

66My Golden Days$269K (France)available to stream on Netflix

67Dheepan$248K (France)available to stream on Netflix
A reminder that Cannes wins don't help much at the box office.Of course Cannes win MIGHT help at the box office if the movie were released immediately afterwards when people were still talking about them but we'll never know!

68Naam Hai Akira$219K (India)

69Ho Mann Jahaan$208K (Pakistan)

70Kaptaan$203K (India)

71El Clan$201K (Argentina)

72Viva$178K (Cuba/Ireland)available to stream on Netflix

73The Wave$177K (Norway)avaiable to stream on Netflix

74Asura: The City of Madness$175K (South Korea)

75Rams$149K (Iceland)available to stream on Netflix

76League of Gods$143K (Hong Kong)

77The Kind Words$135K (Israel)

78ISM$134K (India)

79Spirits Homecoming$125K (South Korea)

80Sweet Bean$124K (Japan)available to stream on netflix

81A War$122K (Denmark)available to stream on Netflix
A sad reminder thatan Oscar nomination in foreign filmguarantees nothing in terms of box office.Sometimes it helps,sometimes no one notices...even when you've got aGame of Thronesactor leading your movie!

82Three$119K (Hong Kong)

83The Measure of a Man$112K (France)available to stream on Netflix

84Aferim!$108K (Romania)

85Dictator$104K (India)

86Demon$104K (Poland)

87Rock On 2$98K (India)

88Seondal: The Man Who Sells The River$97K (South Korea)

89So Young 2$96K (China)

90New York New York$92K (China)

91Fireworks Wednesday$90K (Iran)
One of Asghar Farhadi's most cherished classics got a US release finally.Only 11 years after its Iranian debut!

92No One's Life Is Easy...$89K (China)

93Sand Storm$86K (Israel)

94Mountains May Depart$82K (China)available to stream on Netflix

95Cock and Bull$82K (China)

96Les Cowboys$80K (France)

97Sky on Fire$78K (Hong Kong)

98My Best Friends Wedding$77K (China)
yes,Shu Qi remade the Julia Roberts movie

99Saala Khadoos$76K (India)available to stream on Netflix

100Sword Master$75K (Hong Kong)

Just outside the list...
Sweet 20$71K (Vietnam),Phantom Detective$67K (South Korea),Microbe & Gasoline$63K (France),Time Renegades$60K (South Korea)

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Reader Comments (10)

Ixcanul did surprisingly well because it is surprisingly outstanding.Wonder how much it could have made if it had had real distribution.Deephan is also in my Top 10 for the year.

December 19,2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

No.63 Ho Mann Jahan is actually Pakistani.The industry in Pakistan is going through a revival where a booming television industry is now creating cinema that would appeal,especially,to the urban population.

December 19,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRizz

rizz - thanks for correction

December 19,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

46.Our Little Sister is from Japan.Lovely little movie that should have found more audience.

December 19,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJija

I hope more people will check out Measure of a Man,and Sweet Bean (among others,naturally).

December 19,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I can confirm that Nick Davis' A grade for Ixcanul was both fairly warranted and gave the movie an $8 boost in box office

December 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR

AR -- i'm sure Nick will be very happy to hear to this.

December 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Dheepan is actually from France (Jacques Audiard).Even the characters are migrants from Sri Lanka,not India.

That's one film less for India,which already has so many in your top 100!


December 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterFX Durandy

If people feel icky about giving Casey Affleck prizes,they should go to Vincent Lindon in MEASURE OF A MAN.Both very internalised performances in films about masculinity - but the French one is better if you're into that sort of movie (it has no big grief,tear inducing stuff,it's just about a man struggling to be).

December 21,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

FX -- oof.i knew this of course.sorry about that.fixing now.

December 21,2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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