TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It’s a small world after all. These days when it comes to movies, movies are walking the line between domestic and international. More and more, Hollywood depends of a film getting great box office overseas not just here in the U.S. For that reason studios are spending big bucks for premieres in foreign markets. Mike Speier is the managing editor for Daily Variety. Welcome.
MIKE SPEIER: Hi, how are you.
THOMAS: So I was a little surprised to see that the film Spider-Man 3 premiered in Tokyo before it shows up on screens in the U.S. Why?
SPEIER: If you look at the numbers, the studios are finally realizing — I mean they’ve known for a long time, but they are finally getting it that opening in a foreign market that has huge amounts of movie going populations like Japan or lie even, believe it or not, China, can do amazing things for your movie because America is huge but it’s not the only market. And if you look at the numbers from last year, you see that a lot of movies made even double what they made in America. And that’s the money you’re going after.
THOMAS: By why open it earlier? I mean if you’re gonna make the money there anyway, why does it have to open first in Tokyo as opposed to third?
SPEIER: It’s kind of like a platform release and what they’re doing is they’re spreading the word, and they’ve just decided that, Japan for instance in Spider-Man’s example, that Japan has such an amazing population of people who are such fans of the project. And they love Tobey McGuire over in Japan.
THOMAS: So it creates buzz?
SPEIER: It creates a huge buzz overseas. And then when it finally gets here, it’s almost the other way around. They know they’re gonna make the money here so why not create that buzz overseas and now what they’ve done is created this huge, huge product.
THOMAS: So when you look at domestic and you look at overseas or foreign, the numbers are more and more getting to be bigger overseas than they are here, aren’t they?
SPEIER: All you have to do is look at movies like The Da Vinci Code last year, No. 2 on the list worldwide. It made about $218 million domestically. It more than doubled that not globally, but just in foreign markets, so another $540 million around the world.
THOMAS: Since Hollywood is depending more on foreign markets for bigger profits, is there any evidence that those markets are influencing the kind of movies the studios are making?
SPEIER: Well certainly, going back to The Da Vinci Code, a book that was successful around the world, a major movie star like Tom Hanks and then you get kind of a foreign cast mixed in with that. So someone like Audrey Tautou who’s a French actress joins him in that, that couldn’t hurt the possibilities in Europe because she’s so well-known there. That combination seems to be the one that really worked in that case and I guarantee you’re gonna see that in a lot of other big movies.
THOMAS: Thank you very much Mike.
SPEIER: My pleasure.
THOMAS: Mike Speier is managing editor for Daily Variety.
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