As you might have noticed (it's practically impossible not to), New York City is always getting reduced to rubble in the movies. Cloverfield, I Am Legend and what's that one about all the freezing rain that had Jake Gyllenhaal in it? Oh yeah, The Day After Tomorrow. You might think that in a post-9/11 world, Americans might not find the idea of NYC being blown to bits very enjoyable to watch. Oh, well! "That is what will sell it overseas," a Paramount senior executive tells the NYT.

Indeed, the international movie business — of strategic importance to studios for two decades — has become so lucrative that many movies are now built primarily to appeal to people outside the United States.

What sells best overseas is a simple message, preferably one that is nonverbal and can be communicated with a single dominant image. "The Day After Tomorrow" was an easy global sell for 20th Century Fox. (Manhattan freezes over.) But "Spanglish," with its complicated story about an Anglo chef falling for a Hispanic household helper, and with a tough title to translate, was a nightmare for Sony international marketers.

Note: we now live in a world where Adam Sandler's Spanglish can be considered a complicated story.