What is an American Film? – Does such a thing still exist?

“How many of you want to make an American film?”
Were we to have an extended dialogue about this question, I’d try to lead you to a recognition that such a thing no longer exists. The MPAA recently released data on domestic and world box office figures for 2010. Worldwide box office totally $31.8 billion. Domestic box office was $10.6 billion. International (which used to be called “foreign”) was $21.2 billion.
Thus, 2/3rds of box office revenues now come from outside the United States.
Domestic box office has increased about 15% since 2006, but that’s in dollars, not attendance. In fact, attendance dropped 5% this year, but income managed to equal that of 2009 because of higher ticket prices, especially for 3D.
In contrast to the declining American box office, since 2006, international box office has increased 30%.
For much of the past 15-20 years, I and most others have been saying that box office revenues for American studio films were roughly split between foreign and domestic.
The fact that box office revenues are now 2/3rds foreign and 1/3 domestic explains a lot about what the industry is – and is not – interested in. One of the things it’s not interested in is something that’s simply an American film.
The MPAA data is at http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/653b11ee-ee84-4b56-8ef1-3c17de30df1e.pdf

Howard Suber recently asked, in his invitation only “blogette” email list:  “How many of you want to make an American film?” His response is excerpted with permission here:

Were we to have an extended dialogue about this question, I’d try to lead you to a recognition that such a thing no longer exists.
.
The MPAA recently released data on domestic and world box office figures for 2010. Worldwide box office totally $31.8 billion. Domestic box office was $10.6 billion. International (which used to be called “foreign”) was $21.2 billion.
.
Thus, 2/3rds of box office revenues now come from outside the United States.
.
Domestic box office has increased about 15% since 2006, but that’s in dollars, not attendance. In fact, attendance dropped 5% this year, but income managed to equal that of 2009 because of higher ticket prices, especially for 3D.
.
In contrast to the declining American box office, since 2006, international box office has increased 30%.
.
For much of the past 15-20 years, I and most others have been saying that box office revenues for American studio films were roughly split between foreign and domestic.
.
The fact that box office revenues are now 2/3rds foreign and 1/3 domestic explains a lot about what the industry is – and is not – interested in.
.
One of the things it’s not interested in is something that’s simply an American film.
.
Those of you who have been following this website for any length of time know my indebtedness to Howard Suber on every professional and intellectual level.  He continues to be my mentor and guru on all things story, character and film. His wonderful book is here:  http://thepoweroffilm.com/

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