Will '12 Years A Slave' Be Hit Overseas? (Should There Even Be A Question About This?)
Photo Credit: S & A

Will '12 Years A Slave' Be Hit Overseas? (Should There Even Be A Question About This?)


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

Tarantino’s movies.

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.



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