Bryan Caplan  

Immigrant Directors

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One of the best paths to success in Hollywood these days is to direct an obscure foreign film. Angelina Jolie's latest movie is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, whose Night Watch was seen by everyone in Russia, plus me and Tyler Cowen (though he walked out). Reuters explains:

By some measure, this is an odd time for foreign directors to gain a foothold in Hollywood. Previous waves tended to accompany an increased profile for foreign films here. But foreign-language movies at the moment couldn't be less relevant for domestic filmgoers. Even such so-called crossover hits as "The Lives of Others" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" have struggled to reach $10 million domestically.

The result is an unusual dichotomy: Foreign movies have never had such a low profile, yet foreign-language directors have never been in such high demand. After picking up the Oscar for best foreign-language picture last week for "The Counterfeiters," Austrian helmer Stefan Ruzowitzky could write his ticket in Hollywood, especially given that it was the No. 1 indie film at the box office in its opening week.

You might think that only native English speakers could appeal to middle America, but it looks like talent is a universal language.

P.S. Check out this story on the Three Amigos' $100M deal. Amigo #3, Alejandro González Iñárritu, is now my favorite director in the world. (Sorry Peter Jackson).

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (5 to date)
Carleton writes:

The "Three Amigos" were featured on Charlie Rose a while back... the whole thing is on youtube now.

The show is also an extra on the Pan's Labyrinth DVD.

8 writes:

People aren't watching foreign films in the movie theater. They are watching them online and through Netflix. 10 years ago the foreign film section at the video store was very limited, now everything is available. What percentage of recent horror movies were remakes from Japan? Korea is the most underrated nation of all, in my opinion. Their production value equals that of the U.S. (except for big budget special effects) and they have put out several top-notch movies in every genre, from teen comedies (Sex is Zero) to sports movies (Mr. Gam Superstar). Cult favorite Old-Boy is being remade in Hollywood and the Korean War drama Taegukgi was one of the best war movies made in recent years.

John Fast writes:

1. Those dirty foreigners come here illegally and steal jobs no real American wants to do, like directing blockbuster films. :-P

2. Why did Tyler walk out of Nochnoi Dozor? Was he disappointed because he thought the film was an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel, or maybe Alistair MacLean's? Or was there some other reason?

3. Why did you like the film? I haven't seen it yet but I'm not particularly impressed with the book myself. Have you seen Day Watch yet?

4. I'm very hopeful that you'll enjoy my World of Darkness game, a/k/a "Moral Victories."

John Fast writes:

5. Whoops, I forgot to ask: why is González Iñárritu your favorite director? Did you love Babel or is there some other reason?

Steve Sailer writes:

It just shows the complete dominance of Hollywood at making big budget movies. "Night Watch" was kind of cool, but it needed Hollywood money and expertise to be what it aspired to be -- a big Hollywood movie.

And I doubt that more directors of big budget Hollywood movies are immigrants today than in the golden age of Wilder, Wyler, Lubitsch, Curtiz, Hitchcock, etc.

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