Executives and representatives of Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. concluded their annual confab over the weekend in Seville, Spain. On the agenda were screenings of upcoming releases, as well as strategy sessions for the company’s next 15-20 releases.
The most hotly discussed title was “Last Action Hero,” which reps agreed would face a different challenge for a Schwarzenegger film because it’s coming off unfavorable U.S. press response. “In some territories that simply won’t matter,” insisted German general manager Jurgen Schau. “It will still be very big in Germany and Austria, I’m certain. We don’t expect ‘T2’ business but probably the foreign gross will be much bigger than in America.”
Duncan Clark, senior marketing veep, said the foreign campaign of “Action Hero” will be the same or slightly altered from the domestic. This would also be true for the Clint Eastwood actioner “In the Line of Fire.” But as most films don’t have the benefit of a big star or high concept, special care is usually required on a territory-by-territory basis.
“That’s why we have these annual marketing meetings,” said Clark. “It’s one thing when you’re addressing ‘Ghostbusters 2’ and quite another when you have something called ‘Groundhog Day.’ No one knows what the title means outside the U.S., so we have to come up with something else that works.”
In foreign release, “Groundhog Day” had titles that reflected the theme of repetition, as in France, where it was translated as “Never-Ending Day.” Schau recalled that when they released “Bingo” in Europe, he dubbed it “Look Who’s Barking” in Germany.
Clark also noted that while every “medium is up for grabs as an advertising tool in the U.S.,” many major foreign markets provide limited or restricted access to television and radio.
That limit accounts for a tremendous demand internationally for in-person tours by major performers. He said appearances by Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in Cannes would provide incalculable promotional boosts for their films.
In addition to “Action Hero” and “Line of Fire,” other upcoming product screened in full in Seville included “I Married an Axe Murderer,””Manhattan Murder Mystery” and “Rudy.”
John Singleton’s Janet Jackson-starrer “Poetic Justice” was a last-minute no-show. Field reps were anxious to see the film to weigh the balance of plus and minus factors that an ethnic film with a popular pop star would pose in their territories.
A consenus of the group was that the upcoming “Look Who’s Talking” sequel and Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” might well be the most universally embraced after the company’s two blockbusters.