Why Is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Opening Internationally First?

Heading to the movies this weekend? I bet you are super-excited to finally check out Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2! Fan feedback has been off the charts positive. Reviews, on balance, are strong. Grab your tickets and head out to…

Wait, what? Oh yeah, that’s right. We live in the United States, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t open here for another two weeks. Webb’s sequel opens in 15 territories today, including the U.K., Spain, Belgium, Mexico and Australia. Financially, it’s a winning move for Sony. Deadline reports that in four of the key markets, the Spider-Man sequel "already has logged the biggest opening days of the year."

But U.S. readers have been reaching out to us wondering why we’re behind the curve when it comes to global distribution. It’s a valid question.

This isn’t an anomaly. It’s the continuation of a trend. Last year, right around this time, we wrote a piece explaining why two of 2013’s biggest blockbusters – Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness -- opened in foreign territories ahead of playing in the States. Paramount reps, at the time, told us about recognizing a window of opportunity in which to open Into Darkness, because Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby had shifted its release date, creating a hole on London’s schedule.

That might be the case. But the harsh reality remains that the U.S. isn’t as desirable a market for global tentpoles like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 anymore. And when studios like Sony greenlight a sequel – and a franchise worth of upcoming chapters – they usually do it because they see the potential for international success. As I wrote in the column last summer:

We should probably get used to the fact that superheroes and sci-fi characters we once thought of as exclusively ours now belong to everyone. And when it comes time for major studios to market and distribute these movies to a global marketplace, we’re going to see the films … eventually. But it’s likely going to be after everybody else. As movies like Iron Man 3 and Oblivion proved, we’ll show up when the studio finally opens the movie here. … We just aren’t the powerful movie launch pad we once were."

Take The Amazing Spider-Man as a prime example. Sony’s 2012 attempt at rebooting the web-slinger grossed $262 million in the U.S., but a whopping $490 million overseas. Spidey is a global hero, and Sony knows that in order to bolster and sustain this cinematic series, it has to lure an international audience. Which is why sequel stars Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx and Emma Stone have been on every international talk show during a lengthy global tour to promote the film ahead of its release.

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You get the idea.

The biggest problem isn’t even box office. There’s a much larger issue at play here… one that really jeopardizes the cinematic experience for U.S. audiences.

Gwen Stacy

There are a ton of spoilers in Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. A ton. As we have written repeatedly, Webb and his crew are attempting to build a larger mythology with The Amazing Spider Man 2, and the movies that have been announced to follow it. A Venom spinoff. A standalone Sinister Six movie. The next Spider-Man film. There are huge reveals in Webb’s movie that are going to be talked about online for the next two weeks. And American audiences will NOT be able to avoid them.

The Internet doesn’t care where you live. The Internet feeds on spoilers. Sites will want to discuss, at length, what happens in the third act of Webb’s sequel. Fans will want to react to it on social media. Oh, sure. Sites can post warnings. But good luck dodging the major plot reveals thrilling audiences in Spider-Man 2 from now until May 2, when the movie finally opens here.

And like we said, this is only the beginning. The UK Film Distributor’s Association now reports that Warner’s still-untitled Batman/Superman movie will avoid going head-to-head with Captain America 3 by opening earlier overseas – specifically, on April 29, 2016.

In response to that stark reality, Forbes writes, "The truth is that big films are debuting outside the U.S. first because the U.S. is becoming less important as a single territory as opposed to the combined overseas market and/or certain major markets like China and Russia.

"This latest [Batman] news is just another prime example of how America is no longer the all-important market that it once was," Forbes continues. "When not even a Batman movie opens in America first, what does it say about the importance of what is technically still the top movie going market in the world?"

It’s a great question, and one that seems to crop up on day’s like today, when U.S. audiences watch reactions to coveted blockbusters flood Twitter, while we stand in line at local multiplexes, look up at the marquee, and choose between A Haunted House 2 or Bears.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.