There’s been a lot of talk recently about the increase in the foreign box office. According to Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service it makes up to 68% of the approximately $32 billion global film market. As the global economy shifts so does the movie business. And the result? Hollywood is looking to make their movies more globally appealing. Or simply, less American.
You probably think I’m exaggerating.
Writer/director Adam McKay recently opened up about Paramount Pictures nixing his sequel to Anchor Man. The first one cost $20 million and made over $90 million. But only $5 million was made over seas.
“A lot of comedies and a lot of comedians don’t travel,” says Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures. “We need to make movies that have the ability to break out internationally.”
Not the first time I’ve heard this. American humor doesn’t play well outside of America. Hollywood–like any business–follows the money. This will most likely mean a decrease in comedies on the production slate. Especially comedies with any sizable budget.
Which will most likely mean any hopes you have of getting your comedy script made will rest on it being produced independently. And right now the independent distribution market is in the toilet.
Big movies have long been a Hollywood staple. What’s changing is the un-Americanizing of it.
Writers on the upcoming big-budget movie based on the Hasbro board game Battleship were asked to redo their script because their premise was deemed “too American.” It was determined it needed to be more global.
“I can tell you that no studio head is going to make a big expensive movie that cost $150 million or $200 million unless it has worldwide appeal,” says Mark Zoradi, a ex-president of Walt Disney Co.’s Motion Pictures Group. “You can’t pay back that production cost on the domestic model alone.”
Hold on to your hats, this is where it gets bumpy.
Adam McKay’s new comedy, The Other Guys, has a moment for Mark Wahlberg’s character involving Yankess shortstop Derek Jeter. The studio execs worried that the Jeter joke wouldn’t play internationally so they actually told McKay to re-shoot the scenes with international sports stars David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, planning to release those versions abroad. That never panned out for Sony and the Jeter joke remains. But this could be a new model for filmmaking.
Can you imagine alternate versions of Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, or the Godfather?
I don’t begrudge anyone. Hollywood has a right to try and squeeze every dollar out. It’s a business. That’s what you do. My concern is the quality or artistry of the movies that it begets. And more so, I worry about the movies that we’ll miss out on. A lot of my favorite movies barely got made at all.
Does the world really want big dumb movies? I say we make one as a test. No humor. Set it anywhere but America. Lots of action. And let’s make it 3D since that’s all the rage these days. I bet it doesn’t make one dollar.
Shit. You win again, Hollywood.