Hollywood's business model affecting Europe
LONDON — Hollywood has figured out a New World Order — one that works for the big studios. Filmmakers from the rest of the world, however, are dubious whether it works for them.Over the past two weeks, I found myself wedged into the center of Europe, where this love-hate relationship has been bruisingly apparent. Presiding over a jury at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, I had abundant opportunity to talk with diverse filmmakers from around Europe and learn about their hopes and apprehensions. Karlovy Vary is a quaintly picturesque spa town in Western Bohemia. Its festival attracts young film fans from around Europe while its robust economy lures big bucks from Russia — money being lavished on new hotels and spas. Talk to filmmakers who come to the fest to show their wares, and you find yourself grappling with three persistent questions:
- Hollywood’s new business model of mega-sequels, partially financed by hedge funds, has clearly reinforced U.S. dominance at the world box office, but where does this leave the Euros? There’s no way Europe’s auteur-driven cinema, with its modest government subsidies, can compete on a marketing level with Hollywood’s mighty film fusillades. Should local filmmakers even try to compete, or further turn inward?
- While American blockbusters own the world, Europe’s subtitled films occupy an ever smaller share of the U.S. market. Filmmakers abroad wonder why U.S. audiences don’t react against the tyranny of the tentpoles by rallying around auteur offerings.
- European filmmakers (particularly Brits) once were welcomed into the Hollywood directing fraternity (indeed, actively recruited), but today these opportunities seem to be shutting down. While Euro filmmakers are increasingly intimidated by studio budgets and bureaucracies, some would love to try their hand in shaping Hollywood product, but feel the invitations have disappeared.