Did China Just Help Us Get PACIFIC RIM 2?
The movie business is changing around us. Once upon a time foreign money was a secondary thought, or more important to the business plans of DTV action filmmakers, who presold movies overseas based on the names of actors who were often a joke in the United States. But in the last couple of years Hollywood's fiscal focus has moved off our own shores, and more and more movies are being engineered to appeal to a non-American audience. This is a little disorienting to longtime watchers of the business and, I think, deeply detrimental to the movies in general. It leads to films that are designed to be consumed on a very visceral, non-intellectual level, as moviemakers don't want to worry about getting ideas and themes translated. It's easier to just pack in explosions, which speak to audiences in every language.
We saw this shift earlier this year with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The movie limped to $55m in the US, but it soared with $170m in international box office. A movie that would have been a dud under the old system is now getting a sequel. And it could be happening again with Pacific Rim; the latest movie from Guillermo del Toro may not break $100m domestic, but it's been doing well overseas. And this week it blew the doors off the Chinese box office, cementing it as a global hit.
That means Warner Bros is now very, very seriously considering making a Pacific Rim 2. That's a victory for those who think that Pacific Rim is the sort of blockbuster that should be embraced by audiences (and anecdotally I've seen it being very embraced by the minority who have gone to see it) and who want to see more of the world that del Toro and Travis Beacham created. And hell, once the movie comes out on home video Pacific Rim might even be a thing in these United States.
It's a strange new world at the box office, and it's changing the way movies are made and sold. Pacific Rim is just one of the harbingers of the future. What will the movies look like when the United States is just a minor territory, barely taken into account by the suits at the studios?