When filmmaker Adam McKay pitched a sequel to his 2004 hit Anchorman, says Lauren A. E. Schuker in The Wall Street Journal, he figured it was "a no-brainer for Hollywood." The first movie, a $20 million Will Ferrell vehicle, had made more than $90 million at the U.S. box office. But Anchorman was a flop overseas, taking in only $5 million. So Paramount Pictures passed on the sequel this spring, "fearing the comedy's uniquely American brand of humor wouldn't play abroad." McKay, the director of next weekend's blockbuster release The Other Men, couldn't fight a shift in Hollywood's thinking. As international movie markets begin making their own movies, and domestic box office revenues shrink, American studios are increasingly worried about what foreign audiences like, because the foreign box office is where the money is. Here's an excerpt:
The rising clout of international audiences is a sea change for Hollywood. Decades ago, a movie's foreign box office barely registered with studio executives. Now, foreign ticket sales represent nearly 68 percent of the roughly $32 billion global film market, up from roughly 58% a decade ago, according to Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service.
The result is that one of the most American of products is now being retooled to suit foreign tastes. Studios have begun to cast foreign actors in American-themed blockbusters like G.I. Joe. Scripts are being rewritten to lure global audiences. And studios are cutting back on standard Hollywood fare like romantic comedies because foreign movie-goers often don't find American jokes all that funny.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- How Ferguson made conservatives lose faith in the police
- Girls on Film: 5 things that need to happen before Hollywood will ever truly change
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- How the West produces jihadi tourists
Subscribe to the Week