Magazine article Screen International

The World Belongs to Rio

Magazine article Screen International

The World Belongs to Rio

Article excerpt

The fact that most international audiences saw Rio a week before domestic shows how the North American release is losing its power in dictating the success of film.

There's a sea change afoot in the business of releasing studio movies around the world, and I don't mean the shortening of windows, although that in itself is loaded with significance.

No I am referring to the fact that 20th Century Fox International opened its animated movie Rio last weekend in 55 territories before its North American opening this weekend. It's not unprecedented that studios go out with a major picture in international territories before domestic, but for several reasons it has never been the business tradition. Chief among those reasons is the fact that the international exhibition community wanted to see how a film would play in the domestic market before coming to their own conclusions about booking it into theatres in their markets.

When I was in my teens, the gap between a US release and international could be as much as six months. ET - The Extra-Terrestrial was a summer sensation in North America but only released in the UK in December 1982, for example.

Everything has changed since then, of course, not least of which is the piracy problem that could plague a family title like Rio.

But for Fox to put out a major release like this, which is not a sequel and has no existing awareness outside the studio marketing campaign is a sign that the North American market is losing some of its power as a bellwether. For the film to gross a staggering $55m in 72 countries in advance of school holidays in much of the world is an even greater indication that distributors and exhibitors around the world are less dependent on that US release than they have ever been. …

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