CineEurope Preview: Disney Exec on Selling 'The Lone Ranger' Overseas (Q&A)
Dave Hollis, named international distributor of the year, talks about Europe's box-office struggles and how the "Cars" spinoff "Planes" was customized for international territories.
This story first appeared in the June 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
CineEurope, the annual gathering of international theater owners in Barcelona, Spain, is more important than ever to Hollywood thanks to the increasing might of the overseas box office.
This year, studios will be screening an unprecedented number of summer tentpoles (including Paramount's zombie epic World War Z and the eagerly anticipated sequel Despicable Me 2 from Universal) in a bid to win over the hearts and minds of exhibitors before these movies open internationally. Disney executive vp distribution Dave Hollis -- who will be feted with the show's international distributor of the year award -- is among them and comes armed with The Lone Ranger and Planes.
CineEurope is run by the Film Expo Group, which is owned by The Hollywood Reporter's parent company, Guggenheim Digital Media. CineEurope also will honor Mars Entertainment Group CEO Muzaffer Yildirim of Turkey with the International Exhibitor of the Year Award and independent cinema owner Ad Weststrate with the International Union of Cinemas Achievement Award.
On the eve of the show, Hollis spoke with THR about the convention and The Lone Ranger's chances overseas despite being a Western.
The Hollywood Reporter: What are the pressing issues facing the European box office? Box office reached a record $8.5 billion in 2012, but attendance slipped compared with the previous year.
Dave Hollis: Europe is an extraordinary part of our business and always will be. But as is the case with the rest of the world, Europe is grappling with how to convince people to show up more at movie theaters. It starts with great content, and CineEurope will be a showcase for that content.
THR: How are you selling The Lone Ranger internationally?
Hollis: While much of it takes place in the American West, it's an action-adventure with universal themes of bravery and loyalty. We have high hopes for Lone Ranger since it reunites the team behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise -- producer Jerry Bruckheimer, star Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three. Pirates of the Caribbean was never considered just a pirate movie.
THR: How will Planes, a Cars spinoff, fare overseas?
Hollis: The Cars franchise has been very successful. And there has been a nice localization effort in 11 countries where the character Rochelle has been localized in terms of the flag on the plane and the color of the skin, so to speak.
THR: Is it ironic that CineEurope is now held in Spain, where the box office is being severely depressed by the country's faltering economy?
Hollis: There is something nice about having the show in a place, quite frankly, that could use a little help. And it's a great backdrop for spending time together as an industry.
THR: You are receiving top honors at CineEurope. What does the award mean to you?
Hollis: It's more of an acknowledgement of the Walt Disney Co. than of me personally as well as the slate of films that we've been able to bring to people around the world.