Actually, It's Called Football: 5 Things Other Than The World Cup That Are Way More Popular Outside America
After Landon Donovan's triumphant last-minute goal last Wednesday, it seems like Soccer Fever has hit America. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a low-grade fever, maybe running a toasty 99.7, rather than the 106 degree scorcher that soccer brings out virtually everywhere else in the world. It's just a sad fact of our country -- some may certainly love it, but by and large, the U.S. just isn't that into The World Cup. But don't feel bad, soccer! Here are five other things that are way more popular outside America.
5. Doctor Who
This British mainstay is in the Guinness books for longest-running sci-fi television show in the world, with its foppish two-hearted time traveler frightening the gee-willikers out of kids since 1963 (minus a brief lacuna in the 90s). And while it certainly has its fans here in the U.S. -- it set a BBC America ratings record for the premiere of its most recent season -- it's not the mainstream smash it is in sweet home Britannia. Ask the average Brit what a sonic screwdriver is, and you're likely to get a smile of understanding. Ask an average American about a sonic screwdriver and they'll think it's either a mixed drink or Lindsay Lohan's favorite sexual position. Or both.
4. The Golden Compass
The book series by Philip Pullman has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, so it seemed like a movie based on the first installment would be a no-brainer, insta-success. But, wary of its anti-Church themes, the Friends of Jesus squad put a fatwa out on the film, with the Catholic League calling for a boycott, and an editorial in the Vatican's newspaper denouncing the film as "godless." But for worldwide audience, Nicole Kidman and talking polar bears seem to trump even God; while the Golden Compass pulled in an anemic $70 million stateside, it grossed $300 million in foreign sales.
3. Big Brother
A modest summertime staple here in the U.S., Big Brother is big business all across the globe -- it airs in nearly 70 countries. Large enough to support multiple spin-offs of its main program -- Celebrity Big Brother! Teen Big Brother! -- its worldwide success can be traced to one simple universal truth: people like to watch attractive naked people. In countries with much more lax attitudes towards sex and nudity, the cameras and Internet feed inside the Big Brother house are a perennial hit. But here in the U.S., we like our sex like we like our politics: shameful and in a darkened room. Free hint to Julie Chen: If you want higher ratings this summer, just add more boob.
2. Russell Crowe
While the waning grosses of the stupendously awful Robin Hood seem to indicate that the chubby, grumpy balladeer's favor is falling in America, audiences everywhere else are taking to him like a phone to the head. While his last few movies have been virtual stinkbombs here, foreign viewers just can't get enough. Body of Lies made nearly 66% of its final gross through foreign play; State of Play made just shy of 60% the same way. And the aforementioned crapburger Robin Hood has made near $200 million overseas while here in the land of liberty and KFC Double Downs, it limped to a little over half that.
1. Ice Age 3
Perhaps you thought of the third installment the Ice Age series as I did -- a harmless little animated trifle that certainly is nowhere near Pixar-greatness but certainly not Delgo-bad either. Something that you'll doubtless see on TBS in heavy rotation a few years hence. Well, allow me to drop some knowledge, gentle reader: This little CG Hydrox cookie of a movie made a hair under $200 million in the U.S., but worldwide made an eye-popping $690 million. That's just a little less than a THREE QUARTERS OF A BILLION DOLLARS without even adding in a single American cent. Consider me stunned. But then again, maybe audiences respond a lot better when Ray Romano's phlegmy drone of a voice is dubbed over.