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Hollywood: If it doesn't sell overseas, we won't make it

American movies must attract foreign box office revenues, says Lauren A. E. Schuker at The Wall Street Journal, or face being shelved

Anchorman: Too American?

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.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

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