Hi Kids, Dr. Media back from the road, just chillin’. Those of you in the film biz need to read this.Anne Thompson , an old hand at the biz–she wrote the Risky Biz column for years–makes some excellent observations here, about the meaning of foreign sales for your projects.

Check it out. This is the new alchemy, for the moment.

New role call for international films

Foreign sales agents search for star power

At the Hollywood majors, there is a small coterie of actors who can guarantee that a film will be made.

in the world of foreign sales, there is a parallel universe, with a
different group of actors who are considered bankable, even if they’ve
only had a few film credits — as long as those few films were
successful enough to give them recognition around the globe.

available money for movies gets squeezed, indie producers need to find
“bankable” names who don’t command movie star prices. But foreign sales
agents like Summit Intl. (“Twilight”), 2929 Entertainment (“Two
Lovers”) and France’s Wild Bunch (“Southland Tales”) can’t raise
financing without casting actors with international appeal.

used to be that you had to have a track record to be a bankable star,
not only in the domestic market but also overseas. However in the past
year, the economics of the global market has shifted.

actors don’t cost too much but have recognizable international and
domestic value,” says ICM’s Hal Sadoff. “Most independent budgets
cannot bear the costs of an established movie star and the ability to
cast an up-and-coming actor allows a producer to meet their budgetary

Here’s how it works. Foreign sales agents crunch
the numbers on different actors and scripts, estimating how much
business a movie will do in each territory; then they agree to put up
conservative advances to the producers based on those guesses. The
producers can raise more coin from bank loans.

The stars on the
thumbs-up lists of foreign sales agents are the ones who can get movies
made. Even those who are hardly household names.

This has
presented a great opportunity to a slew of young actors and actresses
and it means a greenlight for a lot of films that might not otherwise
be made.

Of course, the question remains as to what impact these
films will have on the domestic box office — and, of course, whether
these films will prove to be good.

Aside from the thesps listed
in the accompanying chart, the roster of actors come from a variety of
nationalities and professional backgrounds. The list includes thesps
who are more established on U.S. TV than in films, such as Ashton
Kutcher, or those who’ve established a name in the indie world, such as
Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and Yank Evan Rachel Wood. Some have
starred in films that were socko internationally if not domestically
(Ben Whishaw, “Perfume”), while others have had co-starring roles in
big domestic hits like Katherine Heigl (“Knocked Up” and “27 Dresses”).

range from the Oscar-nominated Ellen Page (“Juno”) to Aussie actor Sam
Worthington, whose past credits may not ring many bells but who’s
considered hot based on two upcoming pics: “Terminator Salvation” and
James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

And there are those who’ve co-starred
in Hollywood blockbusters, like Kate Bosworth (“Superman Returns”) and
Chris Evans and Jessica Alba, both from “The Fantastic Four.” That
makes them recognizable, even if their names were not the factor that
sold those tentpoles to auds.

While their backgrounds and resumes vary, all have perceived appeal to the target demo, the magic “Juno” sweet spot: 17 to 35.

is a new model for packaging films appealing to a youth audience,” says
Myriad Pictures’ Kirk D’Amico. “Young males and females are driving the
box office.”

Oddly, not having starred in many movies is an
advantage. Because these young actors aren’t dogged by a string of
flops, producers and financiers can place bets on their future,
investing in their promise.

“Megan Fox hasn’t had a failure yet,”
says Nicholas Chartier, president of foreign sales company Voltage
Entertainment. “Two years down the road we’ll see if she has made good
choices. Sam Worthington’s ‘Avatar’ is a year and half away.”

for the time being, the farm team is being offered so many movies (most
of them dreck) that they can’t possibly accept them all. If they do,
they risk overexposure or worse: appearing in too many pics that can’t
get arrested at fests like Cannes or Sundance or even sell territories
at the American Film Market. Starring in a fest-circuit movie that
doesn’t get distribution is a black mark that is hard to erase.

biz is heartless and if a rising player doesn’t maintain a high batting
average, they don’t advance to the big show. Film history is filled
with actors whose golden potential turned them into also-rans.


Ben Barnes

Claim to fame: “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

Next up: “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

Emile Hirsch

Claim to fame: “Into the Wild”

Next up: “Milk”

James McAvoy

Claim to fame: “Atonement,” “Wanted”

Next up: “The Last Station”

Jim Sturgess

Claim to fame: “Across the Universe,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “21.”

Next up: “Crossing Over,” “50 Dead Men Walking,” “Heartless.”

Channing Tatum

Claim to fame: “She’s the Man,” “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” “Stop-Loss”

Next up: “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra.” “Public Enemies”

Jessica Biel

Claim to fame: “Stealth,” “The Illusionist,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”

Next up: “Nailed,” “Easy Virtue”

Emily Blunt

Claim to fame: “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Charlie Wilson’s War”

Next up: “The Great Buck Howard,” “Sunshine Cleaning,” “The Young Victoria,” “The Wolf Man”

Megan Fox

Claim to fame: “Transformers”

Next up: “Jennifer’s Body,” “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People”

Brittany Snow

Claim to fame: “Hairspray,” “Prom Night”

Next up: “Finding Amanda”

Kristen Stewart

Claim to fame: “Into the Wild”

Next up: “What Just Happened?” “Twilight”