International Newswire: It’s the Local Movies, Stupid

How local movies perform now often determines a country’s final annual box office

Suck me Shakespeer
Courtesy of Constantin Film/Reiner Bajo

It’s the local movies, stupid. Box-office figures for the year are beginning to come in from Europe’s major territories, beginning with a disastrous rout in Italy. In general, U.S movies still head box-office charts, but if there’s one factor that may link results in many countries, it is how local blockbuster movies — or their lack, as in Italy — increasingly help determine if annual box office for a country is up or down.

That in turn often depends on whether a country is suffering local comedy fatigue. Italy is a case in point: U.S movies grossed €360 million ($426 million) through Dec. 17, up 4% on the same period in 2016. But ticket sales dropped disastrously from 99.5 million to 86.4 million as nearly all the local laffers tanked. Germans, by contrast — and even Mexicans and Hispanics, who lapped up a remake — can’t get enough of Constantin’s high-school comedy “Suck Me Shakespeer.” Its third installment has earned $59.9 million to date, helping German box office to soar 5.5% through mid-November.

Paddington 2” ($41.8 million through Dec. 17) similarly helped lift U.K. box office 4% by the end of November. Spain this year didn’t have a local title of the stature of 2016’s “A Monster Calls.” But a spread of comedic types from the slapstick of animated feature “Tadeo Jones 2” ($21.1 million) to withering social satire (Alex de la Iglesia’s “Perfectos Desconocidos,” $13 million through Dec. 24, and counting) to family comedy (“Es por tu bien,” $10.9 million) should put total box office roughly on a par to 2016 — and bigger than Italy for the first time in years.

It’s the Christmas letter nobody in the U.K. wanted. The country’s disastrous productivity performance post-crisis may become a disappointing new normal, predicts an Enders Analysis report, “U.K. Economy: Same Diagnosis, New Prognosis.” Among the welter of woes, household finances will remain emaciated and consumption growth is approaching its limit. Film and TV can of course be decoupled from economic cycles, indeed people may go to cinemas to escape from crisis. However, none of Enders Analysis’ prognosis suggests a rapid recovery in the pound, which would make buyers more bullish for film and TV content, enjoying more bang for their sterling buck.

Three of the driving forces in Latin American scripted drama — Turner Latin America, free-to-air Argentine network El Trece and associated production house Pol-ka, and cable operator Cablevision — are teaming to produce TV drama “El lobista.” Lifting a lid on political skulduggery, the series will star Dario Grandinetti (“Talk to Her”). Slotting into a deal sealed this year by the same partners to co-produce two premium TV series annually, “El lobista” underscores a new TV ecosystem. The business — and consumers — used to make a point of distinguishing between cable and network dramas. No more. As TV ad returns stall or fall in much of international, series are now being backed by both such entities and meld elements of free-to-air and pay. As was underscored by 2017’s erotic crime thriller “The Fragility of Bodies,” made by the same partners, that mix can add an edge to series.

“Game of Thrones” has maintained its Lannister-like hold on the title of TV’s most-pirated series. According to TorrentFreak, 2017 marked the sixth consecutive year that HBO’s tent-pole phenomenon led the pack. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” also repeated as No. 2. After that, things shook up as CW’s “The Flash” moved up a place to third, while CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” jumped two spots to rank fourth. The next three series were new to the list: in order, Cartoon Network’s “Rick and Morty,” Fox’s “Prison Break” and BBC’s “Sherlock.” History’s “Vikings,” USA’s “Suits” and CW’s “Arrow” rounded out the ignoble top 10.