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While Hollywood smugly totals up its overseas grosses, serious competition is looming. And some of that competition stems from the studios themselves.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pouring into local-language films, with a box office success that is starting to attract the kind of commercial investors, hedge funds and financial institutions which previously would have made a beeline for the U.S. majors.
That's great news for local producers and filmmakers.
But these native projects are cutting into the once-invincible American product. While studio tentpoles continue to dominate, some mid-range Yank pics are floundering in the wake of punchy local fare--for example, "Wedding Crashers" ($209 million domestic, $76 million overseas) and "Failure to Launch" ($88 million vs. $37 million).
And the new trend means competition is increasing between local and American films for release dates and screens.
In the past few years, the entire landscape of local-film funding has changed as wealthy individuals, private equity funds and banks give local filmmakers the resources to compete more effectively for their own audiences--without a concern if the film exports.
A few studios have embraced the trend. They have realized that they need to add local movies to their local pipelines, and if someone else helps pay for them, all the better.
Hollywood, accustomed to raking in money from overseas investors, is tentatively reversing the trend: Putting more coin and clout into native pics.
Fox latched onto the Russian smash "Night Watch" and is bankrolling the rest of the trilogy. It picked …