Check Out Our New Look

Studios Translate Local Language Movies Into Lucrative Global Business

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, goes the old saying. While the studios continue trying to crack the nut of getting Hollywood films into China, many of the majors also have a wider global strategy that’s proving lucrative both there and elsewhere: Local-language production. Hollywood’s involvement in the area is not new. But, increasingly, movies that are co-produced or distributed by the majors in such places as China, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea and Latin America are finding themselves reaping strong returns.

The markets “are huge,” especially where local box office rivals that of Hollywood pictures. Homegrown films in China, for example, generally snag about 50% of the annual market share and are currently widely outperforming Hollywood films – this week’s Iron Man 3 notwithstanding. In India, the indigenous share of a $2B market can be as much as 90%. There’s an argument to be made that Chinese or Indian films don’t cross cultural borders, but with those kinds of numbers, “Why would the film need to travel?” posits an exec.

Richard Fox, EVP International for Warner Bros., says the studio is looking to develop relationships to make Chinese-language films. “There are a lot of moving pieces in assessing which countries to focus on,” but, “if it doesn’t recoup in the country of origin, we don’t get involved,” he says. Warner recently bet well in Mexico where its comedy Nosotros Los Nobles smashed records with the second biggest opening ever for a non-animated local film.

Another studio exec says local language production “is all relatively opportunistic.” It can be a distraction to try and stay abreast of local material, but “paying attention to local markets, filmmakers and stories around the world gets you more educated in terms of worldwide taste and emerging filmmakers.” Plus, “the minute you have a hit, it’s ‘How much money are we making? Why don’t we up this business?’” Here’s a look at how the studios are speaking in various tongues: Read More »

Comments (5)

Foreign For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Goes To Will Smith’s Home Studio Sony (Though Universal Tried Hard)

EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that international on Quentin Tarantino’s new Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is going to Sony to co-finance production later this year and distribute sometime in 2012. This after the filmmakers met with every major studio except Warner Bros. Of course, The Weinstein Company is taking domestic. But the surprise is that Universal International didn’t have the inside track since it co-financed and took overseas on Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, in a very successful pairing ($201M international for a global cume of $321M). Actually, Universal really wanted Quentin’s latest and tried to really step up. There was a big meeting this past Friday between Universal International and Quentin where the foreign guys went to extraordinary lengths to pull out all the stops. Employees wore T-shirts emblazoned with the languages of all the managing directors of the territories in town. And a bag of handmade scalps was presented to Tarantino — a reference to the ”100 Nazi scalps” from Inglourious Basterds to remind Quentin how well the studio did for that movie last time around. Instead, Django Unchained went to Sony because of its existing relationship with Will Smith, whom Quentin desperately wants to star in the film. “Having Will involved is the key. That’s what the filmmakers want, and they think the best chance of making it happen is at his home studio,” an insider tells me.

UPDATE: Right now, Will is still pondering his role as a slave in the script, which I just read and would be a very risky … Read More »

Comments 50

Quentin Tarantino Saddles Up For Spaghetti Western ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

Back when I saw him in late February at Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar night party for The King’s Speech, Quentin Tarantino told me that his script for a Western was just pouring out of him easily, that he’d finished a draft and expected to turn in a final version within two months. As a web leak of the cover page of his new script Django Unchained attests, Tarantino finished that script two days ago, right on schedule. Here’s what I’ve heard: While Tarantino has spoken about doing a variation of the Western genre he called a “Southern,” I’m told he has actually written a spaghetti Western, that stylized and violent brand of films popularized by Sergio Leone and a few other directors in the 1960s. Tarantino will put his stamp on one of his favorite genres same as he did when he took on the war mission movie with Inglourious Basterds.

The project is moving very quickly. Tarantino is reuniting with Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher. Sher will produce with Pilar Savone. Weinstein, who distributed Pulp Fiction, will spearhead domestic distribution on Django Unchained through TWC. Universal International has the inside track to co-finance and handle foreign distribution because of the relationship built on 2009′s Inglourious Basterds, which grossed $200 million overseas and $324 million overall. Despite the early look that Universal International will get, Tarantino’s script is also being pursued … Read More »

Comments 59