Try as he might, Tom Tykwer can’t seem to make a splash in America. Tykwer turned heads in 1999 with the absolutely brilliant Run, Lola, Run; the $7.2 million that film grossed in the U.S. is more than his next three features pulled in domestically combined. Most recently, 2006’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer cobbled together $132 million worldwide, with less than $3 million of it coming from the States, despite heavy marketing. (Come to think of it, even I saw that movie abroad.)
Tykwer looks to change all that with The International, a globetrotting thriller from Columbia. Clive Owen and Naomi Watts star as an INTERPOL agent and a Manhattan attorney, respectively, trying to take down the more sinister elements of a high-powered banking institution linked to illegal arms dealing. Their quest to expose fiduciary corruption will send them on the run worldwide; this probably won’t involve mild-mannered bank tellers pulling out Uzis on the streets of Istanbul, but I’m going to go ahead and imagine that it will. Clive Owen’s recent track record with action flicks is something of a mixed bag. 2005’s Derailed, with Jennifer Aniston, was a mild hit, and the Spike Lee joint The Inside Man was a well-received success, to say nothing of Sin City. However, the critically beloved Children of Men failed to make its budget back worldwide, and grossed only $35 million in the US. 2004’s King Arthur found $200 million worldwide and $51 million domestically, but still could be considered a disappointment off of a $90 million budget and an inescapable marketing campaign. Most recently, last year’s campy Shoot ‘Em Up was somewhat well-received but flopped hard, pulling in just $24 million around the globe against a $39 million budget.
Still, Owen is a big star, and if the planets align just right with The International, he could carry the film to a strong opening. Naomi Watts can’t hurt, having been pushed to the A-List with The Ring and launched into the stratosphere with Peter Jackson’s King Kong; a strong supporting role in last year’s Eastern Promises has kept her stock high. (As a side note, it’s still hard to even type “Eastern Promises” without thinking of Viggo Mortensen in a naked sauna brawl.) This is the first pairing of Watts and Owen, and that should be the focus of the marketing – “Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and a bunch of guns” sounds a lot better than “sinister banking and INTERPOL intrigue.”
The as-yet-unannounced budget for The International might be pretty high – filming took place on location in Turkey, Italy, Germany and New York, and at one point involved a full-scale model of the Guggenheim Museum (which we can only hope was dramatically blown up.) Ulrich Thomsen (The World Is Not Enough, Kingdom of Heaven) co-stars. First-timer Eric Warren Singer turned in the screenplay.
Source: Box Office Reports