International indies facing tough times

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It's never easy for indie producers and distributors, but rarely have things been as tough as they are now.

Not only is it harder than ever to secure screens in the U.S. without the backing of a Hollywood behemoth, but the situation abroad is even trickier.

Folks in places as far-flung as France, India and Korea tend to prefer their own homegrown fare (and if they don't, government regulation helps nudge them in that direction). They also flock to American tentpole franchises and animated blockbusters -- everything from "Indiana Jones" and "Iron Man" to "Wall-E" and "Kung Fu Panda" -- which the Hollywood majors are increasingly betting the house on. Thirdly, the Tinseltown titans have set up shop in key territories abroad to co-produce local fare with well-connected partners in those places, further limiting the screens for unaligned indie fare.

Our going rate chart suggests the percentage of a film's budget that can be made up in foreign sales for all rights in key territories. Obviously there are disparities, and for a pic that is really hot, competitive bidding can drive the price up. Still, for most it's a slog.
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