This doesn’t happen very often, but a note made in a week old article in THR has touched off a firestorm of sorts around “Attack The Block,” the well-received alien-invasion flick by Joe Cornish that debuted at SXSW this past week (fyi, we loved it). In the article, written prior to the film’s premiere in Austin, the trade noted that the Brit street slang was making potential distributors worried and that, “there is talk of having subtitles for any North American release.” Additionally, THR said that “there is even excited talk of getting the movie’s remake rights and making a U.S. version of the film.” Of course, some film sites went into overdrive with a couple already campaigning for the newly launched Drafthouse Film — who only have one film under their belt — to take on the movie. Can everyone just breathe for a moment?
First off, “Attack The Block” was always going to be a niche player. Featuring a no name cast, no major studio or arthouse arm (except for Fox Searchlight, maybe) will likely be interested. With the landscape already cluttered up with alien movies this year — “Battle: Los Angeles,” “The Darkest Hour,” “Cowboys & Aliens” — getting the film noticed on a circuit bigger than the arthouse rounds would be a monumental task. Particularly with no stars or big names to hang the picture on. Secondly, the subtitling-British-movies worry comes up every now and again, usually when there is a film generating some heat and there is some concern that the flyover states won’t understand the pic. And nothing happens. Ever. If all that changes with “Attack The Block” we’ll be pretty shocked.
But let’s face it. The audience for “Attack The Block” are not going to be too worried about missing a line or a reference here or there. We saw the film in Austin and the language and accents were never an issue and those who ‘Block; will be marketed to are likely already savvy with British and foreign films, and a big chunk of America are watching BBC on cable with no problems. The other thing? Distributors hate spending money they don’t need to. No one picking up the movie is likely to want to spend more getting it subtitled. The only way we think this could possibly happen is if no one circles “Attack The Block” for fear it will fly over American’s heads and everyone involved is forced to put subtitles on it to get it sold. But again, we don’t see that scenario playing out. As for a remake, we’re not surprised but we doubt any plans on that front would pre-empt an American release of the original. And again, no contracts have been signed on that front anyway.
So, what’s gonna happen? Well, SXSW is over and no deal is in place yet for the film, but we’re sure phones are ringing. Our guess is that “Attach The Block” will continue this summer on the genre festival circuit (Fantasia, Fantastic Fest, etc.) and a deal will close for the film with a genre friendly distributor (IFC Midnight would be a good fit, Magnolia perhaps) and everyone will be happy. But until there is actually something to worry about, let’s have cooler heads prevail shall we?