Any film aspiring to international successmust first conqueritshome market, says Richard Fox, executive vice president international atWarner Bros.
Speaking at the Screen International-backed Media Summit in London, Fox said the studio had come to understand the importance of national markets to any distribution strategy. A 'one-size-fits-all' US production won't cut it with today's demanding customers, he suggested.
'People do want to go to the movies but they want to see stories that are relevant, relatable and entertaining. No longer can one big US film be expected to reach successfully a generalised global audience.'
The local-first approach does not undermine the need for films to reach their wider international potential - Fox stressed that he believed in 'films without borders.'
Rather, he sees the ability to reach local markets as a critical judgement on whether to back a film for wider release.
'There is no second act if a locally-produced film does not perform. Ifa filmdoes not generate strong, positive word of mouth, it's pretty much finished in its home country and that never bodes well for that film's ability to travel.'
The emphasis on supporting local film has required a change of business model, working in a genuine partnership with national producers.
'Globalisation is a reality but we take care to leave no cultural imprint of our own on those films.'
The advantages are not only in having a testing ground for films with demanding local audiences, there are other marketing efficiencies, such as the availability of local talent for promotions.
There are equally big challenges, he said, highlighting the threat of piracy, inefficientnational subsidysystemsand resistance to subtitles outside major cities in theUK and US.
For more see next week's Screen International magazine.
The Media Summit is jointly sponsored by Screen International, Broadcast and Q magazines.