Friday, June 10, 2011

Co-Produced Superheroes

International co-production is a fact of life for the modern film industry. With many films costing between tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to produce and market, few production companies can shoulder the cost (and risk) alone. In addition countries such as Germany offer highly favourable tax breaks for film production, making their financial contribution highly valuable, and an essential partner for many productions.

For example the English language 1995 Crying Freeman adaptation was produced by American, French and most notably Japanese production companies. These in particular seem out of their usual comfort zone, with Fuji Television Network, Toei Company and Tohokashinsha Film Company being better known for producing Japanese language films, and TV movies for consumption in Japan. In comparison this film seems an anomaly in their back catalogues. The companies would certainly have an interest in producing a film based on a well known Japanese property, despite the French director Christophe Gans, the English language production and entirely Canadian locations (despite being partially set in Japan). Toei Company also went on to distribute the film in Japan.

Does this kind of co-production matter? In some cases the production companies involved will try to influence the production because they have an interest in the property, but often it’s seen as a tax efficient way of investing money for companies that care little about film production. From my experience of looking at responses to Underworld, I found that fans weren’t concerned who the producer was, rather they were more interested in seeing a film with a gothic-punk genre, staring “badass” vampires and werewolves. As a result I seriously question whether audiences actually care how the film is funded, as long as they get the product.

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