One of the thoughts running through my mind when people are talking about co-productions and (non-actor) talent within film production is the happenings here in the UK with our film studios and our film production as a result. Don't know exactly when it started, but there seems to be a time in the 1970's where USA companies began setting up more productions up in the UK and coincidentally the UK film industry was slowing down, potentially dying off to a very large extent.
Here's the worst ever movie, in terms of Box Office takings, here in the UK. A 2001 Romantic Comedy that only need to sell 8 DVDs to double what it made. Not necessarily the worst movie of course, but most of the reviews I've turned up don't rate it, but it is a good example of some odd things which British film makers can choose to do and what British Audiences behave like. Sure, I've never made a film, not looking to say I could do better, not in competition really - I, like most, actually spend my money accessing in one place what I could not do myself, but which I can relate to.
As American productions in the UK increased, the pricing of the skills will have shifted in order to compensate or capitalise, and the reliance and determination to see things from that perspective of selling ourselves to that market, coupled with less presence in cinemas of UK films, shifted what we see as potential material for film (and its subsequent earning capacity) has become Americanised. On the flip-side, we also see the most typically British movie styles as Historical epics, films which scream 'British' to foreign audiences, that potentially pander to stereotypes that are 50 years out of date anyway at very least, and smaller intimate or potentially more comtemporarily British films fail to hit the radar.
Take this example then, a romantic comedy made in 2001, due to shortly hit DVD. Small budget of £70k, opened in some cinemas - many never manage this, many films funded by the National Lottery schemes don't complete production, or never make any kind of real or substantial appearance at all. No advertising budget, some good reviews, some 'big name' talent including Andrew Lincoln, well known TV actor in the UK. It's apparently the smallest box office of any film opening here in the UK, ever.
Fine, multiplex cinemas have knocked small cinemas from towns around the country - not more choice in multiple locations now, more apparent choice in one location, a kind of positive spin on the negative effect of the chains like UCI and Showcase. OK, so I don't think it's fare to blame American film makers for the effect that's happened - UK film makers need to think small and appropriate, offer something America doesn't and find ways of promoting it as such with money rather than by simply crossing their fingers, look at how other countries operate - and I am glad for the employment American Studios offer UK skills, but would like to see us with a system that can support a movie that isn't necessarily rubbish, but isn't typical fare for those that simply watch Blockbusters before Biritish movies. Not necessarily looking for Britain to do what many believe is the way to fight back, by matching the content, but to do exactly the opposite. Think small, think contemporary, and think about getting it out there on TV or the internet.
'Offending Angels' on R2 UK DVD February 6th 2006 at Amazon.co.uk.