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Minions (Photo: Universal Pictures)

Taste is not universal, especially when it comes to a communal sense of humor. Comedy movies that slay them in the aisles in one country can be met with total silence in another, and nothing gets lost in translation like a gag.

So, if we look over the stats for the biggest-selling movies of the year across a variety of countries around the world, it’s interesting to note which English-language comedies have surpassed expectations (Minions, Inside Out, Minions again, just as they have in the U.S. and U.K.) and which have struggled to find global acclaim (most of the others).

But more interesting still are the kinds of movies made locally that have proven to be hits:

Czech Republic
The top-grossing movie of the year here is Minions, proving that you don’t need a lot of the English language in your English language comedies to be funny. The biggest local comedy hit is Zivot je Zivot (or Life is Life), the tale of a controlling policeman (and his three romantically-challenged daughters) who discovers a new way of being after meeting a writer with a death wish and a very attractive new colleague:

The biggest movie of the year in China is Furious 7, with two locally made comedies (Monster Hunt and Lost in Hong Kong) taking the second and third spots. The interesting thing about the top 20 Chinese favorites of the year is that the list is less dominated by either Pixar movies or English-language comedies than other countries. The international movies that have done well tend to be action (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World) or fantasy (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies). It’s homegrown comedies that do best with a Chinese audience, such as Go Away Mr. Tumor, a Bridget Jones-style empowerment comedy about dealing with cancer:

Another strong showing for Minions, which is actually the top grossing movie of 2015 for an Argentine audience. But amid local thrillers like El Clan and emotional dramas like Abzurdah, there’s Sin Hijos, a kind of reverse of Three Men and a Baby-style comedy of manners, in which a divorced father falls in love with a woman who wants nothing do to with children:

Some movie charts contain more homegrown hits than others. Turkey’s top 20 is almost entirely local, apart from Furious 7 (seriously, EVERYONE loves Furious 7). One of the biggest hits of the year has been Kocan Kadar Konus (Husband Factor). It’s the tale of a traditional Turkish woman and her search for love despite the planning and interference of her family, not unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except, y’know, Turkish:

South Africa
For the most part, the big movies in South Africa are the same as they are in most Anglophone countries. Furious 7 is top, with Minions second and Avengers: Age of Ultron third. To find real regional variety you have to go down to No. 13, where the comedian Leon Schuster‘s collection of masked pranks Schucks! Pay Back the Money! has been a bigger hit than Mad Max: Fury Road, Terminator: Genesys and Paddington:

Big Avengers fans, the Russians. So big, in fact, that Avengers: Age of Ultron (starring Captain America, Cold War buffs) is their favorite movie of the year, followed by Furious 7, and then Minions. But their funny bones appear to have been well and truly tickled by Three Heroes: Knight’s Move, a locally made animated tale that throws together traces of Disney classics like Tangled and Frozen with a big dollop of Shrek:

Once again, Minions sits one place above Inside Out (at #4 and #5 respectively, with Furious 7 taking the top spot over Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron), but the Aussies have also shown a particular aca-fondness for Pitch Perfect 2, which is sixth. Their most popular local comedy is Oddball (down at No. 33), which is the story of a big clumsy dog who helps to save the penguins on an island overrun by foxes. No, really, it’s like Free Willy meets Beethoven:

South Korea
The 2015 box office in South Korea has largely been dominated by homegrown thrillers, like Veteran and Assassination. What comedy there is tends to be delivered within, say, the lighthearted coming-of-age romp Twenty or the knockabout action drama Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island, which shares a certain sensibility with movies like Rush Hour or The Golden Child:

South Korea is, however, one of the few nations that has proven to be relatively immune to the Minions. They crop up at a relatively lowly No. 28. To put that into context, the Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway comedy The Intern is eleven places higher up.

Stats: Box Office Mojo

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By Fraser McAlpine