International grosses have become more important than ever for films. While American studios may not get as big a percentage, overseas amounts can dwarf domestic take. So it's always worthwhile to check worldwide box office these day, rather than just accept domestic as the final word.
Or look at Rio, which so far has only $125 million at home, but overseas has topped $300 million. An even better example is the latest Chronicles Of Narnia, which was a domestic disappointment, barely cracking $100 million, but making over $300 million overseas. The best example in the last 12 months is probably Gulliver's Travels, which flopped over here with $42 million but made a surprising $194 million over there.
Some stars, while they may be big in the U.S., are bigger around the world. Look at Tom Cruise. With all the bad pr he's been getting, the guy who used to be the most dependable draw in America is no longer a guarantee. A decade ago Cruise in an action film with Cameron Diaz would mean $100 million+ domestic, but last year's Knight And Day only made $76 million. However, it made $186 million overseas. I think Russell Crowe may be moving into this category. Robin Hood, with a gigantic budget, only made $105 million in America (and Canada), but everywhere else it made $216 million.
Meanwhile, The Tourist, a weak movie that got the heave-ho in America, grossing only $67 million, had two international stars, Depp and Jolie, and managed $201 million internationally.
Another actor who used to gross a lot better overseas was Bruce Willis, but I'm not sure if it's working for him any more. Look at his action comedy Red. It made a passable $90 million domestic, but only $72 million overseas.
Comedies often don't play as well overseas, due to cultural differences and language-based jokes. But some actors have gotten well known enough that their stuff attracts enough attention to do decent business. Adam Sandler's (dreadful) Just Go With It and Robert Downey Jr.'s Due Date each made a bit over $100 million both here and there.
Jackass 3D also did twice as well domestically. Actually, I'm not sure if I get that one, since I think their humor is international. Guess other people just don't know about them.