'Percy Jackson' sequel hopes to lure in bigger U.S. audience
By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When the first "Percy Jackson" film came out in 2010, the comparisons with "Harry Potter" were inevitable: the two were based on novels about kids with powers and the first films in both franchises were directed by Chris Columbus.
But "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" fell short of "Harry Potter"-like success, particularly in the United States. Now, with "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" opening this week, Columbus gets a new chance to show that Percy can be like Harry, both in box office and fan appeal.
The contemporary fantasy film from 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox, stars Logan Lerman as the son of the Greek god Poseidon. It is based on the five-part book series of the same name by Rick Riordan, with more than 33 million books sold in the United States. It also has been translated into 37 languages across the world.
"Thankfully, the international audience (on the first film) was so huge that we realized there's an appetite for a sequel," said Columbus, who produces the franchise, but has handed the director's chair to Germany's Thor Freudenthal for the second installment.
"Lightning Thief," made for an estimated $95 million, fell short of expectations at the North American box office with $88.7 million, but fared better overseas with a $137.7 million gross. "Sea of Monsters" cost about $90 million, according to a person close to the production of the film.
"I'd be playing a guessing game if I tried to figure that out," Columbus, 54, said when asked why the U.S. market had not been as strong.
"But the U.S. audience is extremely important. I'm very concerned about the American audience," he said.
Columbus helped launch the "Potter" series by directing its first two installments, "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The eight films combined have made more than $7.7 billion at the worldwide box office, according to figures at BoxOfficeMojo.com. Continued...