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Overseas slice of ‘Pi’ flips Hollywood formula

February 17, 2013 • Business, Entertainment


This publicity photo released by 20th Century Fox shows Suraj Sharma as Pi Patel taking in the bioluminescent wonders of the sea in a scene from the film, “Life of Pi.” With 11 Academy Awards nominations, second only to “Lincoln” with 12, and the sort of global box-office receipts normally reserved for superheroes, “Life of Pi” is one of the most unusual megahits ever to hit the big-screen. (AP Photo/20th Century Fox)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In mathematical terms, divide the circumference of the world by its diameter, and you have pi. In Hollywood terms, add a United Nations mix of ingredients and you have the blockbuster “Life of Pi.”

With 11 Academy Awards nominations — second only to “Lincoln” with 12 — and the sort of global box-office receipts normally reserved for superheroes, “Life of Pi” is one of the most unusual megahits ever to hit the big-screen. Approaching $600 million at the box office worldwide, the film is by far the top-grosser among the nine best-picture nominees — with $200 million more than “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained,” its closest rivals.

“Life of Pi” has action, suspense and spectacle, but it’s a thoughtful, contemplative, internalized film, a philosophical and even cryptic story that touched something in the worldwide psyche resulting in business in the realm of more traditional Hollywood hits such as “The Hunger Games,” ”Men in Black 3″ and “Brave.”

Though backed by 20th Century Fox, the film has an international sensibility that “Life of Pi” director Ang Lee hopes will gradually become part of everyday business in Hollywood, which has a long history of telling tales — even overseas ones — with an American perspective.

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