Hit & Run

Global Picture Show

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Get used to the Global Movie, such as the latest remakes of King Arthur and Around the World in 80 Days. Such films can be recognized by their casts, which feature performers often little-known to U.S. audiences but popular among the increasingly important ticket-buyers overseas.

"As recently as two years ago," writes The New York Times, "international ticket sales were around 40 percent of the worldwide box office, studio executives say. Today, international sales more often account for 60 percent or more of box-office receipts. And as production budgets soar - some as high as $200 million - and the number of big-budget movies rises, the pressure on worldwide sales is growing." The result: Casts increasingly featuring international commercial draws.

Not long ago, the Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur argued that what looked to some people like American cultural imperialism was really an issue of home-market size. That, he recognized, was a situation that was changing.

"In 15 years from now," he wrote, "we won?t be discussing the domination of the western media but the domination of the Chinese media, or the Asian media. Soon we will find that in order to make a hugely successful film, you have to match Tom Cruise with an Indian or a Chinese actor." And that, it appears, is just what's happening.