Parasite film again carved gold ink. After a few months, ago lined up as the winner of the Golden Palm – Palme d’Or – Cannes Film Festival, Thursday in early January was the turn of the Golden Globe, which gave him a similar award: Best Foreign Language Film.
Parasite victory is indeed worth celebrating. However, the director’s speech, Bong Joon-ho, also should not be missed just like that.
“When you overcome language barriers [in the film], you will be introduced to many extraordinary films,” he said, assisted by translators, as reported by Dazed Digital.
“[…] I think we only use one language: film.”
What Bong said was like summarizing the condition of foreign language films in the U.S. market. Let’s look at the data. The Mojo Box Office report, as traced by Indiewire, said that foreign language box office films had experienced a decline in income over a span of seven years. In 2007, for example, the top five foreign language films collected $ 38 million. That number dropped to half, around $ 15 million, in 2013. Even a pro gambler can win those USD 15 million while gambling daftar agen casino online without any worry.
The Statista report has increasingly thickened the trends experienced by foreign-language films. Data from Statista took foreign-language films nominated for Oscars. The conclusion was that even though these films were victorious in Europe and beyond, they were sluggish in the U.S. market.
The Italian film by Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty (2014), for example, only earned $ 2.85 million in the U.S. — far more than collected outside the U.S., which is $ 18.5 million. A Separation, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi who won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011, also fared the same. Outside the U.S., A Separation received $ 12.8 million. Meanwhile, when played in the U.S., he only earned $ 7.1 million.
What is the cause? Anthony Kaufman, in his report titled “The Lonely Subtitle: Here’s Why U.S. Audiences Are Abandoning Foreign-Language Films, published by Indiewire (2014), tries to answer that problem.
According to Kaufman, the first factor that triggered it was the lack of production houses that released foreign language films. Noted, in Hollywood, there are only Miramax, Weinstein Company, and Sony Pictures Classics who are quite routine in distributing foreign language films in the U.S. market. From them, the U.S. public is familiar with The Artist (2011), The Grandmaster (2013), The Intouchables (2011), Amour (2012), A Separation, The Lunchbox (2013), to The Raid: Redemption (2011) starring the local hero. Us: Iko Uwais.
Streaming services like Netflix, Kaufman writes, could actually be a solution to the lack of production houses. However, instead of helping, streaming services actually narrow down access to the spread of foreign language films. The reason is simple: streaming service providers tend to choose films that clearly sell well, rather than having to gamble with movies in the middle of nowhere. If anything, they would rather install foreign-language films with a classic status such as Seven Samurai (1954) by Akiro Kurosawa or Amelie (2001), starring Audrey Tautou.
As a result, many of the foreign language films then ran too small platforms such as MUBI, Fandor, to SnagFilms. Although the growth of this service is quite rapid, the revenue generated is still far behind that of big players like Netflix.
The third factor and this is the most crucial, is language. Stephen Galloway, through “How Hollywood Conquered the World (All Over Again)” published by Foreign Policy (2012), said the U.S. people do not like language switching facilities and are not too familiar with voiceover. In fact, these two things make it easy for foreign-language films to be enjoyed outside of their home country.
The matter of language transfer, or popular with subtitles, is indeed an old problem in Hollywood. The New York Times journalist, Judith Shulevitz, in her report titled “Film; Subtitles Have the Last Word in Foreign Films” (1992), explaining subtitles is a major obstacle to foreign language films.
Mistaken translation is a scene that is often found in foreign language films. This, Shulevitz writes, shows how recklessly companies in Hollywood treat foreign language films. They don’t want to spend a little more money on hiring competent translators. The situation then impacts on the changing audience’s perception of a scene or film as a whole only because of a translation error.