VENTANA SUR: To dub in English or not to dub and the challenges of day-and-date releasing were among the topics sales agents addressed in Buenos Aires on December 2.
Organised under the auspices of the Blood Window genre sidebar, session participants advised the audience of Latin American filmmakers to conduct due diligence when selecting a sales agent, resist the allure of high up-front offers and hold on to digital rights.
Considering the setting and the various nationalities of the speakers, thoughts turned inevitably to the business of maximising a film’s global appeal.
London-based Jinga Films managing director Rosana Coutinho recounted how Canadian labs approached her about dubbing Alejandro Hidalgo’s Venezuelan smash The House At The End Of Time.
“I don’t want to prostitute your ideas but there is a difficulty in the market,” said Coutinho. ” I can close a deal tomorrow on [The House At The End Of Time] if I have an English dub, but I don’t have it. It might be an idea to consider when you’re making your film.”
However Frederic Gentet, head of sales and festivals at Paris-based producer and sales agent Reel Suspect, was of the opposite view.
“There are many languages spoken in Europe,” he said, “so don’t be focused just on English. Do what you want to do.”
“The US audience doesn’t take well to dubbing, so if they’re going to watch a foreign-language film they will read the sub-titles,” said Priscilla Ross, president of worldwide sales at Los Angeles-based Archstone Distribution.
“If your script is really solid and I care about the characters, I don’t care about the language,” said Annick Mahnert, acquisitions and production executive at paris-based producer and sales agent Screen Division. “[Being in English] can help sales but I will look at it if it’s in a foreign language.”
The subject of remakes also elicited strong opinions. “That’s something we do a lot of and we’re always looking for material and a good concept, not just for the American market,” said Mette-Marie Katz, director of sales at Los Angeles-based producer and sales agent XYZ Films.
Ironically XYZ Films broke out with the Indonesian martial arts epic The Raid and is producing the American remake with Screen Gems.
Coutinho said Jinga Films had been in talks to remake The House At The End Of Time, which would be reconfigured as a $12-15m studio film. “Keep your remake rights and you will recoup your budget making it,” she said.
On the subject of day-and-date distribution, the simultaneous theatrical and VOD model has not taken off around the world as it has in the US.
“Canada is a little slower to adopt that model because we have one theatre chain that owns 80% of the market and they have out their foot down and said they don’t want to do it that way,” said Andrew Hunt, managing partner of Toronto-based distributor and sales agent Raven Banner.
“There’s a big debate in Australia about this,” said Mark Spratt, managing director of Australian distributor Potential Films. “The major theatrical chains are still insisting on a 120-day theatrical window before it goes to VOD.”
Spratt said day-and-date had been the plan for the ‘Ozploitation’ film Turkey Shoot as a good way of consolidating marketing costs, however a potential US deal had delayed plans as the distributor did not want the film released digitally before its theatrical release for fear of piracy.