Major xenophobes

SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland — The conventional Hollywood ways of producing and releasing films were cheekily challenged — and stoutly defended — at the Australian Movie Convention Wednesday.

Playing devil’s advocate, Polygram Filmed Entertainment Intl. president Stewart Till accused the majors of being preoccupied with the domestic market despite their public utterances about the growing importance of foreign markets.

Speaking at a seminar entitled “Is Hollywood Paying Lip Service to International?,” Till responded “yes more than no,” and said the majors’ brains say “look at international” but their hearts and 70 years of business say, “Just look out for the U.S. and let the rest of the world look after itself.”

The London-based exec urged Hollywood to make fewer films about baseball, U.S. presidents and fast-food outlets and to cut down on parochially American jokes.

“The studios are still wary about non-U.S. productions; they are missing major opportunities,” he said, contrasting that with Polygram’s successes with the U.K.’s “Trainspotting,” Australia’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and French-Belgian co-production “The Eighth Day,” which he noted has grossed $40 million in those two markets.

Till questioned the U.S. majors’ edict that their films should be released first in the U.S., pointing out that Polygram hit paydirt when it elected to world preem “Bean” in Australia and “The Usual Suspects” in the U.K.

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