Oliver Stone’s Platoon Was Such A Global Hit, Nearly Half Its Revenue Came From International Film Rights

At the AFM in March, representatives of Orion Pictures received many inquiries regarding international distribution rights for “Platoon.” The company’s Senior VP and International Sales Manager, David Lamping, told The Hollywood Reporter in November 2022 that by the time AFM came around, all the foreign rights had been sold and apparently at a good price. He remembered:

“By and large about 40% of our revenues come from foreign, and in some cases more.”

Given the size of the domestic box office for “Platoon,” foreign distributors must have purchased the rights for a substantial sum to represent such a high percentage of the studio’s revenue. Whether their investment paid off is a different question. Oddly, the total international box office for “Platoon” has not been well-recorded, but Variety reported in April 1987 that the film had made $24 million overseas in its first three weeks, without including the box offices for the UK, West Germany, and Japan, where it hadn’t yet released. It appears “Platoon” was a financial success at home and abroad.

According to writer and director Oliver Stone, “Platoon” is based on his actual experiences as an infantry soldier in Vietnam. Much like Charlie Sheen’s character in the film, Stone dropped out of Yale University and enlisted in the army as a “rite of passage.” With “Platoon,” Stone did not set out to encourage others to follow in his footsteps and intended the film as counter-programming to the more jingoistic films.

When he accepted the Academy Award for Best Picture, Stone explained he’d like “Platoon” to remind people the Vietnam War “should never, ever in our lifetimes happen again.” While it was not the first film to depict the horrors of war, “Platoon” helped prove war films can take a critical angle and still succeed financially.

Leave a Comment