Judd Apatow's comedy-godfather status isn't quite translating overseas, The New York Times noted in a probing piece on Sunday. While the filmmaker-producer looks set for a late-summer spike in the States with the upcoming Step Brothers and Pineapple Express, his signature blend of pop-culture refraction and infantile male bonding has come to symbolize American cinema's rut in Europe and Asia. For disappointing starters, we hear France and South Korea have developed interests of their own outside our sex-and-drug romps, piling panic on top of panic as the dollar crashes and the world turns its back on Genius:
Over all, American studios depend on foreign markets for roughly half of total revenue. But Apatow-produced films like the Will Ferrell vehicles Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, did more than 90 percent of their theatrical business domestically. And the Apatow-directed 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up had more than 60 percent of sales at home.
The numbers should give pause to Hollywood. When the summer selling season is over, studios will probably collect far less from international markets than they would have with a larger roster of high-budget fantasies like Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Last year, those two movies did very well at home, then fared even better around the world.
At least until Apatow deigns to an international slob-comedy diplomacy mission to shoot Superbad 2 on Michael Cera and Jonah Hill's study-abroad journey in Paris, the trick may be to just make the movies worse, hints The Times: What Happened in Vegas and Night at the Museum each outperformed their domestic grosses in international release. This could be as simple as outsourcing scripts or casting Ashton Kutcher, but in any case, we hope he does it soon; word on the street is that OPEC hates the trailer for Step Brothers.