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The globe theater


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The new face of world domination
  • The new face of world domination
During his long tenure at the Reader, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum made a personal crusade of urging people to break past the cultural blinders of life in the United States and experience different national cinemas. But as demonstrated by a chart in the new issue of the Atlantic, the true internationalization of film has proved to be more top-down than bottom-up. Because Hollywood movies earn more than two-thirds of their total gross overseas, studios have developed all sorts of strategies to attract foreign ticket buyers, to the point where American viewers (like me) might begin to feel alienated from their own so-called domestic releases. Among the burning questions answered by Atlantic writer Nicole Allan:

Why does Antonio Banderas still have a Hollywood career? Because Banderas has become a valuable envoy to the Spanish-speaking world, especially as a voice actor in the Shrek franchise. "When DreamWorks Animation added Antonio Banderas's Puss in Boots character to the second Shrek movie, box office sales tripled in Spain and doubled in Mexico and Brazil," reports Allan.

Why would Columbia Pictures hand over the role of Spider-Man to a nobody like Andrew Garfield? Because he's a nobody, and his star persona isn't likely to gunk up what's already an established international franchise.

Why are there so many movies set in fantasy lands? Because, as the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies proved, international moviegoers are more likely to relate to a movie set outside their native land if takes place somewhere that doesn't actually exist.

Why are there so many 3-D movies that no one in the U.S. is particularly interested in? Because novelty sells tickets overseas. As Allan reports, 3-D accounts for less than 20 percent of U.S. ticket sales but 40 percent of sales in emerging markets like Russia, Brazil, and China.

Why does my niece in Edinburgh keep urging me to see Hollywood blockbusters? Because she knows I'll love her no matter what.


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