Why film studios really like movie remakes

From The Washington Post:

After 11 Academy Awards, the 1959 swords and sandals epic “Ben-Hur” may have seemed a sure bet as a remake. But this weekend, American audiences did not respond kindly to it.

The remake starring Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman grossed $11.4 million in domestic ticket sales its opening weekend, or $4 million less than it cost to produce the film 57 years ago.

It’s another of countless movie remakes and sequels that have flopped at the box office, but studios will keep pushing them into theaters, film industry analysts say.

Other summer remakes and sequels such as “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Ghostbusters” and “The Legend of Tarzan” have all yet to to break even based on domestic ticket sales, but foreign sales should goose their earnings enough to keep producers from shying away from future remakes.

“We’re playing a global box office game now and North America alone isn’t the say-all-end-all in the total global picture of box office sales,” said Daniel Loria, editorial director of Boxoffice Media. “Many times what will decide if a sequel happens if a film flops in North America is how strong it does overseas.”

The North American market makes up only about a third of global box office revenue, according to industry estimates. It’s still the world’s largest film market, but by no means the ultimate arbiter of ticket sales success.

“Independence Day: Resurgence,” for example, did $383 million in worldwide sales. More than $280 million of those sales came in foreign markets, $75 million of which came from China and another $6 million from Russia.

The 1996 version of the film was not screened in those countries.

Less than 20 percent of “Ghostbusters'” revenue came from foreign viewers in 1984. More than 40 percent of the 2016 version’s ticket sales have been foreign and $6 million of those sales came from …

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