Here’s your daily 12
Years A Slave piece for today.
To answer the question, I don’t see why
not. And I have a theory why it will. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
In today’s New
York Times, there’s an article
on the “International Fate of 12 Years,” or in other words, will people
in Iceland, Italy and Romania go see the film?
The article brings up the old canard, which Andre Seewood and S&A collectively have constantly disputed
on this site, that black films don’t sell
overseas, despite what the Times article says; that “the experiences of black
Americans may be seen as too remote by audiences in countries that have little
cultural connection to the subject matter.”
Of course there was Django
Unchained, which made over $425 million
worldwide, over 60% of that from
foreign countries. But the Times
attributed that to the fact that, it was an action film, a genre for which there is always a huge
worldwide audience, and because of the massive popularity worldwide of Quentin
However, to counter the idea that black films don’t sell,
the article does also quote Stuart Ford,
who is chief executive of IM Global,
which is handling foreign sales rights to Lee Daniels’ The Butler, who says that “Despite the perceived wisdom
that African-American films don’t travel, a great movie is a great movie, and
great movies are at a premium right now.”
And according to Ford, The Butler is performing “solidly”
overseas, and will rake in as much as $50
million to add to its almost $115
million take so far here in the U.S.
And Victor Loewy,
who was the former chief executive at Alliance
Films, and who bought the British distribution rights for the film, said “It’s guaranteed
100 percent to perform in in the United Kingdom… and territories like Australia.”
So what is this about black films not selling overseas?
And keep in mind that 12 Year’s very modest production budget
of $20 million (less than what it cost to make The Butler) is guaranteed to ensure that the film will
make a sizable profit when you compare what the film will make domestically and in foreign countries.
In addition, producer Stephanie Allain believes that there definitely is a market for black
film overseas if the studios were just willing to market them as they do with
other films: “If studios are willing to spend the money to build awareness for
black movie stars and directors, black American film culture will travel.”
Her comments remind me of what Wesley Snipes said years ago, that he actually had believed that
black movie stars had no following in foreign markets until his Blade films were released there, and he was overwhelmed by the
massive response and popularity of the films, and realized that that he had a worldwide fan base.
But there’s another reason why I predict 12 Years will do
well overseas, and that’s because foreign audiences love any film that makes America look bad. And, boy, does 12 Years do that.
Now of course I don’t need to tell you that Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Australia,
Belgium, Brazil and many other countries have their own ugly and brutal history of slavery
and oppression against black people and other people of color. But somehow, they
still feel that they are morally superior to the depraved and
hedonistic United States.
So they can watch 12 Years and think to themselves: “What
a degenerate, sick bunch of people. Why, we would never do that here. We’re too
cultured and civilized.”