Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
- - - - -

"Is Foreign Film the New Endangered Species?" - NYTimes, 1/22/06


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
39 replies to this topic

#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul



  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted January 22 2006 - 04:33 PM

http://www.nytimes.c...es/22kauf.html (registration required for access)

Some interesting figures:
  • In 2004, 18 foreign films did more than $1 million at the U.S. box office; in 2005, the number dropped to 10.
  • Sony Pictures Classics, whose annual release list used to be about two-thirds foreign films, has cut its percentage of foreign offerings almost in half.
  • While a record 91 countries submitted contenders for this years' foreign-language Oscar, only 7 have secured U.S. distribution -- the lowest number in years.
High on the list of reasons for this fall-off is the fact that most of the specialty distributors that typically handled foreign-language films are now owned by major studios, and they're focusing their attention on what the head of Wellspring Media calls "mini-major pseudo-indie productions". If you look at the recent releases by, e.g., Focus Features or Warner Independent, you can see what she means.

Subtitled movies have always been a tough sell in the U.S., but when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did $128 million in U.S. box office and was nominated for major awards, some hoped that would change. But the economics appear to be pushing the other way.

Another ironic point noted in the article: As soon as a foreign-language filmmaker attracts attention, Hollywood comes calling and they start working in English (the most recent example being Fernando Meirelles).

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#2 of 40 OFFLINE   ThomasC

ThomasC

    Lead Actor



  • 6,526 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 15 2001

Posted January 22 2006 - 04:57 PM

"Why release a foreign film when we can remake it in English?"

Quote:
Even strong reviews didn't sustain Jacques Audiard's 2005 release "The Beat That My Heart Skipped," a French remake of the 1978 American film "Fingers," which would have done better at the box office three or four years ago, said the film's distributor Marie Therese Guirgis, head of Wellspring Media.
I may have seen "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" in the list of trailers at Apple's website, but I didn't see any exposure anywhere else. The closest theater that showed it is back in my hometown, which is a 2 hour drive away.

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul



  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted January 22 2006 - 05:08 PM

Quote:
I may have seen "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" in the list of trailers at Apple's website, but I didn't see any exposure anywhere else.
I didn't see any either, except for the trailer (which played at local arthouses) and reviews, generally favorable, in publications like Entertainment Weekly.

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#4 of 40 OFFLINE   ThomasC

ThomasC

    Lead Actor



  • 6,526 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 15 2001

Posted January 22 2006 - 05:17 PM

I think independent studios may be relying too much on reviews. It's in the paper for one day, and they expect a take for $2 million or more. Who will go see a movie they've never heard of? Most people won't without some outside influence. I didn't see a single banner ad for "The Beat That My Heart Skipped". Air some TV commercials in the middle in the night for a cheap price. It'll catch someone's attention and curiosity. Who knows what will happen. There has to be *some* marketing effort.

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Tino

Tino

    Producer



  • 5,343 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 19 1999
  • Real Name:Valentino
  • LocationMetro NYC

Posted January 22 2006 - 10:51 PM

This is unfortunate news. Foreign films to me have always been a welcome relief when the Hollywood big budget films dominate the marketplace and I'm in the mood for something different.
It's gonna be a hell of a ride. I'm ready. .

#6 of 40 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

Lew Crippen

    Executive Producer



  • 12,060 posts
  • Join Date: May 19 2002

Posted January 23 2006 - 01:45 AM

Bad news indeed Michael, although I mostly now only watch foreign films via DVD or IFC as my local theater mostly shows only mainstream Hollywood movies. There are a couple of theaters in the nearby big city (Guadalajara) that show a few non-English language films, but I don’t go very often as my wife’s Spanish is not good enough to either keep up with subtitles or speech.

But regardless of my circumstances, this can only hurt the downstream outlets, no matter the location.
¡Time is not my master!

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul



  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted January 23 2006 - 03:23 AM

Quote:
this can only hurt the downstream outlets, no matter the location
That's my concern as well. If non-English-language films don't get U.S. theatrical distribution, then they're also unlikely to get region 1 DVD releases or to be shown on cable.

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Kain_C

Kain_C

    Screenwriter



  • 1,036 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 17 2002

Posted January 23 2006 - 03:50 AM

Wow, my exposure and interest to foreign films has spiked dramatically recently. I hate to see the inverse happening in reality. There's already a huge gap between foreign films' theatrical runs and when they finally come to R1 DVD, and that's not mentioning their oftentimes poor DVD presentations (Twilight Samurai for example).

Our little city never shows foreign films, but I try and go to the next county over if I know they're showing one.

This news is deeply disheartening because many foreign films put the majority of Hollywood dreck to shame. I'd gladly trade Michael Bay, PWS Anderson, and Stephen Sommers for one Chan-wook Park anyday. As someone else mentioned, foreign films are a very welcome relief.

#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Holadem

Holadem

    Lead Actor



  • 8,972 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 04 2000

Posted January 23 2006 - 04:22 AM

Quote:
Another ironic point noted in the article: As soon as a foreign-language filmmaker attracts attention, Hollywood comes calling and they start working in English (the most recent example being Fernando Meirelles).
Ah... the evils of imperialism.

The article has not provided any satisfactory explanation for this unfortunate trend, other than the "faux indie" phenomenon, lower budget flicks typically produced and distributed by "artsy" subsidiaries of major studios. Such productions often push the envelop of sex and violence, among other staples suchs as hand held camera, grainy picture and the occasional big name star's attempt to garner critical praise and Award notice for a paltry salary. These movies have become as cliche as the next Jerry Bruckheimer production Posted Image.

Does the downward trend of foreign film releases reflect a diminishing interest in foreign movies from the public at large? Could this be related to the current neo-conservative socio/political climate sweeping the country? Has the recent resurgence of "American values" in the public consiousness affected interest in foreign artforms? I think these are questions worth asking.

Also, this is as good a place as any to ask Michael, Edwin et al.:

Is there gonna be an Indie/Foreign film thread this year? It's been a valuable resource over the years.

--
H

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul



  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted January 23 2006 - 04:36 AM

Quote:
Does the downward trend of foreign film releases reflect a diminishing interest in foreign movies from the public at large?
The question assumes that such interest ever existed, and I don't think it did -- certainly not in "the public at large". That's why the box office for Crouching Tiger attracted so much attention. But nothing since has replicated it.

Quote:
Could this be related to the current neo-conservative socio/political climate sweeping the country? Has the recent resurgence of "American values" in the public consiousness affected interest in foreign artforms? I think these are questions worth asking.
The questions may be worth asking, but for reasons that should be obvious, they'll have to be asked somewhere else.

Quote:
Also, this is as good a place as any to ask Michael, Edwin et al.:

Is there gonna be an Indie/Foreign film thread this year?
I have no idea. It's always been Edwin's baby. But looking at the reduced activity in the 2005 thread, compared to previous years, one has to wonder if there's enough interest to justify the effort.

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Haggai

Haggai

    Producer



  • 3,883 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 03 2003

Posted January 23 2006 - 04:41 AM

I doubt that any social trends one could point to have much to do with it, Holadem. Very few foreign films ever play on more than 100 screens, at the most, so we're talking about movies that are competing for niche audiences who don't overlap very much with mainstream tastes. Almodovar's last two movies grossed a combined $15 million in the US, according to IMDB, and without getting too political here, his thematic material isn't exactly in tune with any possible social conservative trends in the US.

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   Brook K

Brook K

    Lead Actor



  • 9,468 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 22 2000

Posted January 23 2006 - 06:53 AM

I've been frustrated by this trend and have certainly noticed it. Atlanta has 23 "art-house" screens and for pretty much the whole fall and winter they've been showing the same movies as the multiplexes with a small sprinkling of US indies like Jesus is Magic and Matador.

I don't think there have been 5 foreign films that have opened here since the summer - and two of those were re-releases (The Passenger and The Conformist). Often when they do open, the foreign film will be here for a week while Jesus is Magic or whatever will stick around for 2 months.

I used to see a good portion of the Sony Pictures Classics releases. Sad to see them cutting back. The other studio art divisions have never show the support for foreign cinema that SPC did.

At least Cache is opening next week.

I've just been putting all my reviews in the 2005/2006 thread and the "track the movies you watch" thread. I could cross post into the indie thread, I just figured it was dead since it hadn't been bumped up in ages.
2002 Sight & Sound Challenge: 321  Last Watched: L'enfance Nue
Last 8 Films Watched: In the Loop - A- / It Might Get Loud - B+ / What Just Happened? - B / Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - C- / Drums Along the Mohawk - A- / Punisher War Zone - B+ / Moon - C+ / A Man For All Seasons - B+

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Holadem

Holadem

    Lead Actor



  • 8,972 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 04 2000

Posted January 23 2006 - 07:04 AM

Quote:
The questions may be worth asking, but for reasons that should be obvious, they'll have to be asked somewhere else.
That's unfortunate. I thought the topic woud be fair game as it relates to movies.

Haggai, you're pro'ly right.

--
H

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

Jason Seaver

    Lead Actor



  • 9,306 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted January 23 2006 - 08:24 AM

How do multi-region DVD players, or Region-0 discs out of Asia, fit into this? It's not something I've dipped my toe into much, but especially for Japanese/Korean/Chinese film fans, it's not terribly difficult to import a DVD from another region these days. Considering that there's a good chance that Miramax/The Weinstein Company will buy the rights, sit on it, edit it, sit on it some more, release it on three NY/LA screens during the off-season, and then later release it on a decidedly unloaded DVD whose cover features a scantily-clad girl with a gun despite the fact that no such character appears in the movie... Well, as much as the foreign film audience is likely to be among those who eally appreciate the theatrical experience, there's ample motivation to cut out the middleman.
Jay's Movie Blog - A movie-viewing diary.
Transplanted Life: Sci-fi soap opera about a man placed in a new body, updated two or three times a week.
Trading Post Inn - Another gender-bending soap, with different collaborators writing different points of view.

"What? Since when was this an energy...

#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Holadem

Holadem

    Lead Actor



  • 8,972 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 04 2000

Posted January 23 2006 - 08:33 AM

That was my first thougths as well when concerns about downstream distribution were aired. Region free players are a dime a dozen nowadays. But how many non-R1 DVDs offer english subtitles? (No idea).

--
H

#16 of 40 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

TheLongshot

    Producer



  • 4,119 posts
  • Join Date: May 12 2000

Posted January 23 2006 - 08:46 AM

I'm also wondering how the "remake" craze is affecting foreign releases. I mean, when you can just buy the rights to the film and remake it for an american audience (The Ring, Insomnia, Dark Water, Infernal Affairs), what is the incentive to releasing the original?

Jason

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

Jason Seaver

    Lead Actor



  • 9,306 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted January 23 2006 - 08:56 AM

Quote:
That was my first thougths as well when concerns about downstream distribution were aired. Region free players are a dime a dozen nowadays. But how many non-R1 DVDs offer english subtitles? (No idea).
Don't know, but high-profile movies out of HK/Japan show up at New England Comics and Tokyo Kid pretty quick these days (and that's just local brick & mortar). I suppose there's a certain incentive to not include English subtitles if you're expecting to license them out later, but I don't think you can ignore the fact that art-houses are now no longer the only way to see these movies, they're also no longer the easiest or the fastest.

Quote:
I'm also wondering how the "remake" craze is affecting foreign releases. I mean, when you can just buy the rights to the film and remake it for an american audience (The Ring, Insomnia, Dark Water, Infernal Affairs), what is the incentive to releasing the original?
Not spending $50M to make not much more?
Jay's Movie Blog - A movie-viewing diary.
Transplanted Life: Sci-fi soap opera about a man placed in a new body, updated two or three times a week.
Trading Post Inn - Another gender-bending soap, with different collaborators writing different points of view.

"What? Since when was this an energy...

#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

Edwin Pereyra

    Producer



  • 3,501 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 1998

Posted January 23 2006 - 09:24 AM

Quote:
Is there gonna be an Indie/Foreign film thread this year?

Quote:
I have no idea. It's always been Edwin's baby. But looking at the reduced activity in the 2005 thread, compared to previous years, one has to wonder if there's enough interest to justify the effort.

Indeed. Even the so-called "regulars" who have already posted above have stopped posting in the 2005 indie thread. Yes, you know who you are. Posted Image

But that shouldn't stop someone from picking it up, start the 2006 thread and have a go at it. Holadem, if you would like to take this up, it's all yours.

~Edwin
DVD Unwind: Paradise Now (Coming) • King Kong - - • KeaneThe Squid And The WhaleA History Of ViolenceHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Best Of Youth (Italy) • Good Night And Good LuckHowl's Moving CastleWalk The Line - - • ZathuraNorth Country

#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul



  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted January 23 2006 - 09:56 AM

Quote:
Considering that there's a good chance that Miramax/The Weinstein Company will buy the rights, sit on it, edit it, sit on it some more, etc.
While that may have been true of Miramax, I would be surprised if the Weinstein Company engages in the same game. The brothers have to be a lot more careful with their money, now that they don't have Disney's piggybank to play with.

Quote:
I'm also wondering how the "remake" craze is affecting foreign releases.
I'm sure the studios would be happy to "double-dip" by releasing the original now and remaking it for a future release, if they thought they could make money from both releases.

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

Jason Seaver

    Lead Actor



  • 9,306 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted January 23 2006 - 04:39 PM

Quote:
While that may have been true of Miramax, I would be surprised if the Weinstein Company engages in the same game. The brothers have to be a lot more careful with their money, now that they don't have Disney's piggybank to play with.
They already have; they were taking the scissors to Chen Kaige's The Promise before eventually giving up the rights. From what I gather, The Promise isn't a good film, but as far as I know, this is their first Asian acquisition under their new banner and already they're reverting to form. Honestly, I'm shocked anyone in Asia still considers dealing with them; even with Sony Pictures Classics apparently not as foreign-friendly as they have been, anyone with something resembling an Asian genre film would likely be better off going to Lion's Gate or Tartan.
Jay's Movie Blog - A movie-viewing diary.
Transplanted Life: Sci-fi soap opera about a man placed in a new body, updated two or three times a week.
Trading Post Inn - Another gender-bending soap, with different collaborators writing different points of view.

"What? Since when was this an energy...


Back to Movies (Theatrical)



Forum Nav Content I Follow