Friday, November 13, 2009

The Mouse in Foreign Lands

Disney is having its Ups and downs in various parts of the globe.

... “Kniga Masterov,” or “The Book of Masters” — is Disney’s first attempt at a film specifically for a Russian-speaking audience. With a Russian cast and Russian writers, directors and producers, the film reflects a new reality at Disney and in Hollywood generally that dubbed American blockbusters are no longer enough to maintain a foothold in lucrative foreign markets. Some local flavor is now required.

In Russia, India, China, Latin America and elsewhere, Disney has been battling a host of Hollywood studios and local production companies for the hearts — and cash — of viewers, with an increasing array of entertainment produced in those markets ...

The formula, so far, appears to have worked. Ticket sales for “The Book of Masters” topped $10 million at the end of its second week, comparable to American-made Disney films here, Disney officials said. The film ranked No. 1 at Russian box offices in its first two weekends ... “It is nice that Disney took part in this because it shows that they are not simply interested in their culture across the ocean, but are branching into other regions,” Maxim Minyaichev, 22, said after watching the film ...

Diz Co. gets that it needs to change its business business models to go with the times, and if that means going native, the House of Mouse is prepared to do that.

But then there is Disney's home-grown product. Some of it is getting embraced in foreign lands, and some of it only lightly kissed ...

Robert Zemeckis’ family 3D entry “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” didn’t find much holiday spirit at the foreign box office over the Nov. 11-13 weekend, easily bested by holdover “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.” "Christmas Carol," bowing in 18 territories, grossed $12 million from 2,750 screens in 18 international territories.

Sony's "This Is It" grossed $29.5 million ...

... Opening foreign gross for "Christmas Carol" was led by the U.K., where it grossed a somewhat disappointing $2.9 million from 645 screens. ..."Carol" has the 3D market to itself in terms of new releases until 20th Century Fox opens "Avatar" day and date on Dec. 18. Of the film's total foreign opening, 62% came from 3D screens.

"Up" grossed almost as much as "Christmas Carol" in the U.K., earning $2.1 million from 762 for a cume of $51.6 million. Pic opens in Japan on Dec. 5.

Part of Carol's problem is there are zero story surprises in the feature. Zemeckis's script is a faithful rendition of Charles Dickens's novel, which means that most of humanity already knows all the story beats.

I mean, who's going to rush out to see a film that's a known quantity? Avatar, whatever its faults, has the aura of newness and originality about it, qualities not shared by a property that's been done on stage and in lots of different film versions. animated and otherwise.


Woodrow said...

I went to the movie because I read that it was faithful to Dicken's in story, especially the dialogue. To that end I was not disappointed and found the movie very rewarding. The roller-coaster ride with Scrooge was sometimes effective, like going into the past over the English country-side or around London, and sometimes not, like the Chariot chase. I do have to admit, though, that I found the shadow work and horses completely awesome.

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