- The Karate Kid box office: Featuring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, Harald Zwart’s mix of martial arts and life lessons provides further evidence that domestic audiences crave original, quality fare.
The Karate Kid box office: Jackie Chan star vehicle offers further proof that American audiences are eager for original, quality movies
June 11–13 weekend box office: Just a week or two ago, U.S.-focused film business experts, concerned about the recent domestic box office downturn, were telling us that American moviegoers want something new, fresh, original. And good quality.
And here’s the proof: Sony Pictures’ The Karate Kid.
A Chinese-U.S.-Hong Kong coproduction directed by Harald Zwart, and featuring Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith (son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008), The Karate Kid easily topped the U.S. and Canada box office chart this past weekend, grossing $55.7 million as per figures found at boxofficemojo.com. That’s nearly twice as much as pundits had been expecting.
Just ignore the fact that the new, fresh, and original The Karate Kid is a remake of John G. Avildsen’s 1984 movie starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita – and that Zwart’s reboot has been hardly a hit with critics.
Anyhow, 2010 has its first official sleeper hit – The Karate Kid cost about $40 million – though it’s still too early to tell how far this underdog tale will go. Word of mouth, as per CinemaScore, has been good: A straight A.
More fresh, original, quality…
But there’s more!
Here’s even further evidence that U.S. (and Canadian?) moviegoers want quality, original stories: This past weekend’s no. 2 movie – with $25.7 million – was Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team, 20th Century Fox’s widely panned $110 million reboot of a braindead 1980s television series starring George Peppard.
The downside (upside?): The action flick is doomed to become a major loser for Fox unless it performs exceedingly well overseas. But will it?
With the ongoing World Cup as an undeniable handicap, The A-Team has so far brought in only $15 million in 35 international markets as per figures found in The Hollywood Reporter.
Global sleeper blockbuster
Update: Sony’s The Karate Kid went on to earn $176.6 million domestically and a surprising – after all, it’s not a branded action sequel – $182.5 million internationally. Worldwide total: $359.1 million.
The Karate Kid thus became the third biggest sleeper hit released in 2010, trailing only two low-budget titles: Tom Hooper’s Oscar-winning historical(ish) drama The King’s Speech (cost: $15 million; worldwide gross: $424 million) and Darren Aronofsky’s ballet thriller Black Swan (cost: $13 million; worldwide gross: $329.4 million – less than The Karate Kid’s but more impressive in relation to its production budget). The former stars Colin Firth; the latter stars Natalie Portman.
The Karate Kid’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($19.8 million), Japan ($17.4 million), Germany ($12.7 million), Mexico ($12.5 million), Australia ($11.9 million), Spain ($11.7 million), France ($10.9 million), and Brazil ($10.2 million).
Curiously, the Box Office Mojo chart doesn’t list China individually, though Hong Kong is found with a paltry $170,000. If at all accurate, that would indicate that The Karate Kid was a monumental flop in that territory. China is listed here, with a meager $6.6 million.
The A-Team gets some much-needed international boost
The A-Team went on to earn $77.2 million domestically and a solid – though hardly outstanding – $100 million internationally. Worldwide total: $177.2 million.
Barring some special contractual deals, rentals (what ultimately goes to the distributors/producers) would have been hardly enough to cover the movie’s production budget, let alone its marketing and distribution expenses.
The silver lining: Without the international market, things would have been far, far more disastrous for this Fox release.
“The Karate Kid Box Office: Jackie Chan Sleeper Hit” notes
Unless otherwise noted, “The Karate Kid Box Office: Jackie Chan Sleeper Hit” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about The Karate Kid, The A-Team, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan The Karate Kid movie image: Jasin Boland | Columbia Pictures.
“The Karate Kid Box Office: Jackie Chan Sleeper Hit” last updated in October 2023.