American Late Releases

I grew up with the pain of having to sit by and endure that awful torture when a film is released over in America, then we over here are bombarded with teasers and spoilers until we get our opening date. But it seems no more – why? ‘The Avengers’, ‘Prometheus’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Skyfall’, this years undoubtedly biggest films and not a single one opened or opens in America first. Yes, one or two did or does have their première in the country, but most don’t, and if they do have their première there first it doesn’t change the fact that most of the world can see the films before the American public. This change is huge, but it seems nobody has noticed, and if they have noticed then nobody is talking about it.

Me personally, I only noticed accidentally when an American asked me how a film was and explained they hadn’t seen it yet because the release date over there wasn’t for another week. So why?

Some say it’s because of the Olympics –  Though, this is a world sporting event that every country takes part in. Plus, this takes place every four years, and as far as my knowledge can tell me films don’t get rolled out early to other countries every four years. I can understand avoiding the Olympics with release dates in the UK, but we are just one country and are by no means first in line to be getting all of these films; we get them before America, but are still far from first.

Some say it’s because of the Euros – This has all of the same faults as an explanation as the one we’ve just tried.  And again, would only account for European countries getting films early, Australia gets Batman first, Japan has the première for Spider-Man, James Bond is having a Serbian première (Yes they’re in Europe, not involved with the tournament though). Places like the Philippines, Singapore and other Sough-East Asian countries tend to be favourite early releases also.

We also need to remember that both of these events are just in the summer, the films are all year round.

Piracy? Anybody with any savvy knows that piracy is sapping not just the film industry, but others as well, and for a tonne of money at that. This is a big worry and factor for the industry, viable it could be the reason behind the change. I don’t think there is a single person I know who can’t get their hands on a pirate film either as a hard copy or from torrent sites, it is no hassle at all. As cinema tickets edge closer and closer to £10, a movie for free will tempt most. Although, the crack down on pirate DVDs is coming harder than ever; the always popular torrent sites being targeted from all angles, not least by the biggest of corporations and governments. But, most of the pirate DVDs I came across were filmed in places like Russia, not America. And surely whoever has the film first will simply pirate it out to those still waiting.

So how about the world’s lubricant, money? If we take a look at the pie, North America does represent the biggest slice, a slice that is shrinking (In 2011 ticket sales sunk to it’s lowest since 1995), Europe’s slice is growing with France hitting a 45 year high and growing even more is Asia, hugely. So maybe Hollywood are adjusting their priorities in order to pull in some extra cash.

Beware – as this happens we could be leading to a dumbing down of Hollywood, yeah… Hollywood dumbing down. For a long time these films have been made almost completely with the American market in mind, so they aim their films at the main demographic in America, 18-34 year olds. Now, China has previously over taken Japan as the second biggest market, biggest demographic here, middle-aged women. As your priorities become global you begin needing to hit multiple demographics, the films become less and less targeted so plot details that rely on things such as cultural understandings are lost and very quickly the films are simplified. I have an academic article available if you wish to read more on this.

So to sum up – I do not know the reason this is happening, we can only speculate. Up side, we get films earlier, down side, they will probably end up being worse films.

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