So many screens, so little timePart of the reason for this decline is the sheer cost going to the cinema has on the fans. The cost of tickets at the cinema has absolutely skyrocketed compared to where they were at the turn of the century. When you factor in refreshments and travel, a night at the cinema can become a costly activity - especially for families. But more so than that, people’s viewing habits are completely different in 2018 than they were even 10 years ago. Hugely popular online streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime make access to the biggest movie titles or binge-worthy box-sets so easy and convenient across a range of devices that our appetite for new and creative productions is more than satisfied enough. Each week, new and exciting original movies and series are released by Netflix/Amazon, and this has created a real problem for box office movies. With a plethora of movies available on demand, less people are attending the cinema, and when they do go to the cinema, they are more likely to attend an ‘event movie’ – a big budget blockbuster movie with wide-reaching appeal. They have eye-watering budgets, recruit the most famous actors and follow a similar, recognisable pattern. It's likely that people will only attend event movies at the cinema once in a blue moon, and this impacts the box office massive. To combat this, major movie organisations, the likes of Disney et al, are doubling down on sequels and reboots to draw in the fans. Marvel and DC Comics have demonstrated this perfectly in recent years, merging characters from the comic book universe together to create film extravaganzas like The Avengers or Suicide Squad. Newer titles, though, are moving toward a newer strategy to ensure box office success. One that takes into consideration not just the domestic box office, but the more lucrative global market.
Time to think global…Nowadays, some original movie titles with big budgets are adopting a localisation strategy at the heart of the film’s production. This involves writing and producing the movie with a nod toward a particular demographic or market; getting a targeted group of fans engaged and emotionally invested in the movie. And one market that movie execs have their eyes on in particular is Asia. Specifically, China. China is home to the second largest movie market in the world, narrowly trailing the United States. In recent years, the Chinese market has developed a serious appetite for American-made films, and this has been shown in the enormous success of the Fast & Furious and Transformers franchises. The potential of the Chinese market has made movie creators sit up and take notice of the potential rewards that lie in wait if they can execute the perfect localisation strategy. A recent example of a movie that adopted this mindset and got its localisation strategy absolutely right is this summer's action thriller, Skyscraper.
Sky’s the limitStarring the universally popular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Skyscraper is the story of a family who relocate to Hong Kong to live in the world’s tallest skyscraper structure, named The Pearl. Of course, disaster ensues, involving unsavoury bad guys and a series of horrific events that inspires Rock’s character, Will Sawyer, to save the day in truly heroic fashion. While the plot may not be the most sophisticated, the thought and effort that’s gone into the film’s localisation strategy is. The film has a series of layers that were hoped would be a hit with the Chinese market. The strategy involved carefully considering three critical elements of the film: cast, language and location.
Cast – When recruiting for the film, it was important to cast a lead actor that would be a guaranteed hit with a global audience, and there’s no hotter prospect in Hollywood right now than Dwayne Johnson. He has made significant progress in winning over the Asian market with his performances in the Fast series, Jumanji and Rampage – a film which saw Johnson hold a highly successful press tour in China’s biggest city, Shanghai. Alongside Johnson is Ng Chin Han of Marco Polo and Masters of the Sea fame, and the Hong Kong-born actor Byron Mann. Mann’s bilingual role as Inspector Wu has helped heighten the film’s Chinese authenticity.
Language – Critical sections of the movie’s dialogue are spoken in Cantonese: the native dialect of the film’s Hong Kong location. To ensure the dialogue's accuracy, Byron Mann took control of the script’s Cantonese translation. In an interview with the Hollywood reporter, Skyscraper’s director, Rawson Marshall Thurber said: “He went through all the dialogue, all the English dialogue I had written, and Byron did his own translation of it into Cantonese. But not just Cantonese, it’s specifically Hong Kong police Cantonese, which is a little bit different than regular Cantonese because there are some English phrases thrown into it”.
Location – The film’s centrepiece is, of course, the skyscraper. Named ‘The Pearl’, this megatower is based in Hong Kong – a beautiful part of the world and home to some of the most impressive structures in building design. Designer of the fictional building, Jim Bissell based the design on the ancient Chinese myth of the Dragon’s Pearl, which symbolises strength and courage.[su_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9QePUT-Yt8" width="100%" height="100%"]