'Lincoln' gets tweaked for overseas release
The Hollywood Reporter -- When Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" begins rolling out to theaters worldwide Jan. 18, viewers will see a subtly different film than moviegoers saw in the U.S.
Instead of opening with a Civil War battle scene, onscreen messages first will contextualize the story against actual black-and-white images designed to provide insight into what was going on in America in 1865. It lasts about a minute.
"We worked on this with Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner," says Paul Hanneman, co-president of 20th Century Fox International, which is releasing the DreamWorks film overseas. "It's seamless and quite beautiful, actually. And there is the John Williams score playing over it."
The explainer will appear before all showings of "Lincoln" outside the U.S. And when the film opens in April in Japan, there will be yet another element: Spielberg will appear on camera to provide a preamble to the picture.
Bing: 'Lincoln' leads BAFTAs
The moves are part of a plan to address the challenge of selling a uniquely American story to an overseas audience that might not automatically spark to a dialogue-heavy drama about what it takes to pass a bill in the House of Representatives -- despite the film's 12 Oscar nominations, including best picture, and $150 million-and-counting at the U.S. box office.
"It's not a biopic about Abraham Lincoln, it's a moment in time that changed history," says Hanneman. "From a publicity perspective, we're not trying to make this a movie about politics."
To that end, the movie's U.S. poster has been altered to show not only the iconic silhouette of the 16th president, but also a battle scene of a city on fire. Fox research showed that, while nearly everyone outside the U.S. had heard of Abraham Lincoln, most didn't know about his role in the Civil War or ending slavery. So the studio has created a series of country-specific promotional shorts featuring political figures explaining the larger context. Among those who appear are Peter Mandelson, who served in the U.K. cabinet under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown; Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the first female president of Chile; and Martin Palous, one of the leaders of the Czech revolution, who serves as the Czech Republic's permanent U.N. ambassador.
All of this is to appeal to an emerging international audience Fox believes is interested in intelligent movies as well as genre fare. That isn't going to be easy. Films about American history traditionally have struggled overseas. "The Help," a 2011 civil-rights-themed drama also made by DreamWorks, grossed $169.7 million domestically and only $41.9 million internationally, a fate "Lincoln" hopes to avoid. "In some ways, the movie is more like a stage play because so much of it is interiors," notes independent distribution strategist Peter Broderick of the $60-million-budgeted production, which is costing about $100 million to market worldwide. (Disney is handling the U.S. release.) "But I think, at least in English-language territories, it should have really good possibilities."
An added marketing benefit, of course, is Spielberg, as well as star Daniel Day-Lewis and all those Oscar nominations.
"The amount of attention it has gathered critically, its success here and awards will drive international audiences," says Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Jim Gianopulos. "It's a global village today. The discussion about the film that's taken place and the attention it has received through social media and elsewhere is global."
Months ago, Fox determined that first-quarter 2013 would be optimum for the foreign release, counting on acclaim and awards attention. ("Django Unchained," a best-picture nominee also about slavery, has opted for a similar rollout.) Spielberg, Day-Lewis and fellow Oscar nominee Sally Field, among others, hit the road Jan. 14 -- the day after Day-Lewis won a Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture, drama -- to Spain to launch the first leg of a European tour that will include stops in Italy, France, Ireland and the U.K.
"We're excited to open in Europe and see the reaction," Field tells THR. "There's a lot of universal themes in the film. Even if you have a different style of government, I think you still understand the fight for democracy is going on all over the world, the messiness and complicated nature of democracy. It's also a look at a marriage and all it takes to be with someone who carried a great deal of responsibility."
Kim Kardashian says her pregnancy lips are out of control, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Check out Hollywood's hottest bikini bods on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
Robert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Better with age
See which stars just get better with age.Watch Video »
Check out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
Find out who went after Kendall Jenner on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Magic LoveThe stars of "Now You See Me" chat learning magic tricks and experiencing the real deal.Watch Video »
- Workout ObsessedGwyneth Paltrow works out for two hours a day, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Twitter AttackFind out who went after Kendall Jenner on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- 'Fast' TalkWatch as the cast of "Fast & furious 6" talk about getting injuries while filming, getting jacked and a whole lot more.Watch Video »
- Feeling SwollenKim Kardashian says her pregnancy lips are out of control, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Party AnimalsCheck out some of Hollywood's biggest party animals.Watch Video »
- Carrie's ChangesSee how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
- Moving OutRobert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Who Am I?Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
- LovebirdsFind out what Jessica Alba and Cash Warren tweeted to each other on their fifth wedding anniversary on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Worst LooksCheck out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- What's Sexy?Heidi Klum hangs with two comedy legends and shares what she finds most sexy in a man on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Sexy SecretsVictoria's Secret model Adriana Lima talks about the What's Sexy list, her model friends and more with Wonderwall.Watch Video »
- American TravelsGet the Prince's travel details on Replay hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Birthday GirlTori Spelling turns 40, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Fashion OffendersFlorence Welch, Zoe Saldana, and Ali Larter all get an F on this week's Fashion OffendersWatch Video »
- Bikini BurnsFrom Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, see the worst celeb sunburns.Watch Video »
- Double TroubleFrom the Olsens to the Mowrys, see some of Hollywood's most famous twins.Watch Video »
- Roasted?Lindsay Lohan refuses to be roasted, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Beach WorkoutsFrom Julianne Hough to Alessandra Ambrosio, see celebs who get their fitness on in the sand.Watch Video »
- Miley's MusicMiley Cyrus mixes music and fashion while ignoring her relationship status, on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
From Videos of Wonderwall
From MSN Entertainment
From Crowd Ignite