Hollywood Studios Don’t Care About America
The international box office is all that matters in a world where domestic audiences are burned out
If you live in America, Hollywood studios don’t care about you. That’s the raw truth. The name of the game today is the international box office. Movies get worse and worse and make less and less money inside the United States — but major studios couldn’t care less.
“The Mummy” premiered to dismal reviews last weekend from both audiences and critics and earned just over $30 million in its opening weekend. That’s terrible considering it was a $125 million movie meant to kick off a highly marketed Dark Universe of rebooted monster characters for Universal. Its second weekend was no better, as the movie essentially disappeared domestically and can now barely hope to break $100 million in America.
Overseas — ah, that's a different story. The movie has broken box office records all over the place and added a major chunk of change to its opening tally. It's now made nearly $300 million when one accounts for its overseas dollars.
It's not the only movie that hasn't appealed to Americans but has cleaned up overseas. The fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie recently opened, and few people here cared. Audiences have consistently run away from the empty franchise, and it has already disappeared from everyone's radar, essentially, despite being out for only a few weeks.
Overseas it has earned over $600 million already, and that is likely enough to guarantee American audiences will get another week at the movies with Johnny Depp slurring his lines in heavy makeup.
As countries like China invest more and more in Hollywood, and audiences flock to television and streaming platforms, studios have begun to shift their strategies to create content for international markets and audiences.
While the big numbers for television shows such as "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones" prove people still want great stories with fully drawn characters, Hollywood has little interest in investing in that sort of thing anymore. The studios would rather create movies with wall-to-wall special effects, simple and mechanical dialogue that is easy for people reading subtitles to understand, and stories that have no cultural significance or personality. That's because movies today need to appeal to audiences as varied as the Chinese and the British — and we wouldn't want to offend anybody.
This trend is only going to continue, as films like "The Mummy" defy everything American audiences say about them and make their profits overseas. We will get more and more movies with a global touch that take no real storytelling risks — and that rely on special effects and things going "bang" when they run into each other.
American audiences are burned out on films that are excuses for trailers for other big movies. Luckily, moviegoers are running to Netflix and Amazon and other platforms that are working to capitalize on the failure of movie studios to capture the interest of Americans.
It's only a matter of time before international audiences become as aware and burned out as Americans on unimaginative cash grabs with no reason to exist except to pay the salaries of studio bureaucrats. And when that happens and the studios try to win over American audiences again — those audiences will be long gone.