8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Deja Vu: Brits take on Hollywood
eastbergholt2002 from United States
9 September 2010
I caught this film by accident and found it fascinating. I've been
living in the US for the last 10 years so I had never heard of Polygram
and didn't know the story. I used to work in the film industry in the
1980s. The documentary seemed like a replay of what happened to
Goldcrest. Goldcrest was a British company that won Oscars making films
like Chariots of Fire, Gandhi and The Killing Fields. Golcrest tried
making big-budget films featuring Hollywood stars and went bust.
The moral of the Goldcrest story is don't try and compete with
Hollywood in the mainstream film market, but there seems to be an
almost kamikaze wish amongst certain British businessmen to want to be
big in America. It's like moths to a flame. They don't realize that the
culture is so different.
For someone living in London it's impossible to predict what Americans
will pay to see. The BBC started a TV channel, called BBC America,
presumably to showcase its talent, but it now seems to just show reruns
of Star Trek, Top Gear and anything featuring Gordon Ramsey.
The documentary focuses on Four Weddings and a Funeral to justify the
company's strategy of U.S. Expansion, but that film only earned 21% of
its gross revenues from the US market, and earned $53 million which is
not a huge amount of money. There is an argument for saying that
perhaps the Rest of the World should have been the focus for Polygram.
Four Weddings was also in many ways a one-off, it had brilliant script
from Richard Curtis who has been unable to recapture that magic with
his subsequent efforts.
If you read George Lucas's book Blockbusting you notice that even
seemingly successful films like Mission Impossible II end up losing
money. The Dutch company that abandoned Polygram was probably making a
prudent business decision.
Many British journalists and film people believe that if someone is
nominated for an Oscar, they become serious players in the U.S. The
Oscars are different. Oscar voters tend to be fair and generous but
they also have intellectual pretensions so they reward serious Indie
movies. Winning Oscars doesn't make you a star in America or guarantee
box office success. Vince Vaughn, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell will
never win Oscars, but they make mainstream Hollywood hits. Foreigners
should realize they will only ever be bit players in Hollywood and make
the most of it.
I have heard variations of the Polygram story before, it is just the
characters that are different.
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