May 31, 2006

The World's Most Gullible Country Contest

Who fell the hardest for the dopey yet soporific movie version of "The Da Vinci Code?"

Because "The Da Vinci Code" was released almost simultaneously around the world, it's relatively simple to calculate which countries blew more of their available money on this nonsense. All we have to do is compare the film's box office haul through its first two weekends across 56 countries versus each country's Gross Domestic Product to award the coveted title of the Nation Most Easy to Fleece.

The four most credulous countries, finishing in a near dead heat, turn out to be Iceland, Denmark, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Each spent about 90 percent more than North America on "Da Vinci Code" tickets relative to their GDPs. Then come Spain, New Zealand, Bolivia, Greece, Mexico, Australia, and the UK, all spending at least an index of 157 where the US/Canada (the "domestic market" for movies) is 100.

The least credulous country of all those reporting box office revenue was Nigeria, which spent only $38,000 on "DVC" tickets out of a GDP of $99,000,000,000. Nigerian skepticism should come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading their emails. Nigerians have been making up more plausible stories than "The Da Vinci Code" for years: you know, the ones beginning, "I am the unrecognized natural child of the deposed God-Emperor Mbubu." Nigerians want us to send them money in return for their storytelling creativity. They're not going to send us their money if the best we can come up with is "The Da Vinci Code."



Box
Office
GDP
($000,000s)
Index
(USA=100)
Iceland $307,040 $15,823 194
Denmark $5,005,521 259,746 192
South Korea $15,528,417 793,070 190
Hong Kong $3,465,896 177,723 190
Spain $20,308,285 1,126,565 180
New Zealand $1,948,658 108,547 175
Bolivia $167,713 9,650 169
Greece $3,792,654 222,878 165
Mexico $12,738,651 768,437 165
Australia $11,926,792 707,992 164
UK $34,758,614 2,201,473 157
Argentina $2,803,734 181,662 150
Philippines $1,442,423 97,653 144
Chile $1,664,528 113,956 142
Colombia $1,724,349 122,269 141
Estonia $183,693 13,108 140
Peru $1,114,753 78,576 138
Ecuador $453,896 33,062 137
Austria $4,084,812 307,036 133
Singapore $1,602,984 117,882 132
Italy $23,047,364 1,766,160 130
Latvia $214,109 16,648 128
Uruguay $202,773 15,926 127
Brazil $9,913,631 792,683 125
Portugal $2,338,326 183,436 124
Poland $3,644,095 300,533 121
Hungary $1,311,955 109,483 117
Lithuania $300,073 25,726 116
Switzerland $4,352,165 367,513 115
Norway $3,371,951 296,017 114
Sweden $4,006,921 358,819 111
Belgium $4,328,489 372,091 111
Bulgaria $294,070 26,719 110
Slovenia $361,842 34,030 103
Venezuela $1,367,886 132,848 103
Germany $29,230,591 2,797,343 102
US / Canada $136,513,000 13,615,933 100
Thailand $1,706,574 168,774 98
Turkey $3,496,924 362,461 96
France $21,118,166 2,105,864 95
Croatia $364,806 37,553 94
Taiwan $3,199,142 346,141 90
Finland $1,682,430 193,491 87
Serbia $220,899 26,215 82
Holland $4,999,313 625,271 78
Czech Rep. $969,479 123,603 76
Slovakia $328,676 46,763 68
Israel $846,502 123,526 67
Malaysia $882,356 130,796 66
Kenya $121,635 19,184 63
Japan $31,768,272 4,571,314 76
South Africa $1,248,316 239,144 52
China $10,112,637 2,224,811 45
Indonesia $1,026,607 276,004 37
Romania $304,600 98,566 31
Nigeria $37,878 99,147 4


Overall, "The Da Vinci Code" has been a smash overseas, making $317 million through its first two weekends versus only $137 million in the US and Canada (which are combined into the "domestic market.")

It's striking how little difference there is in the Index figures around the world. You might think that, say, Venezuela, Germany, North America, and Thailand are culturally quite dissimilar and thus would likely react quite differently to "The Da Vinci Code." Yet they each spent almost an identical amount to see the film, relative to the size of their economies. It's a testament to globalization, although it's hard to avoid the phrase "lowest common denominator." A future in which everybody around the world rushes out to see the same new Hollywood tripe on the same day strikes me as a little dreary.

Notes: I somewhat arbitrarily adjusted the Index to account for the slightly different opening dates (e.g., Wednesday May 17 in France [multiplying revenue by .9545], Thursday May 18 in Germany [multiplying revenue by .975], Friday May 19 in America [leaving revenue the same], or Saturday May 20 in Japan [multiplying revenue by 1.1]). The last date included for each country was Sunday May 28. Countries with only one weekend reporting, such as India and Russia, were excluded. All revenue figures came from www.BoxOfficeMojo.com .


For more on "The Da Vinci Code," see my analysis of "DVC, Women, and Catholicism."

And here are excerpts from my review of the movie in The American Conservative: first and second.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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