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European Distributor Says 'Cloud Atlas' Was Too Intellectual For American Audiences

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist November 1, 2012 at 12:28PM

To say that "Cloud Atlas" has been polarizing is an understatement. Critics seemed to either love it or loathe it, and even among The Playlist staff, some found it to be brilliant, and others a mess. This writer was certainly in the latter camp, but no matter what bloggers, fans or critics thought, mainstream audiences just didn't care. The movie opened to a far-below-expectation $9 million last weekend (though it boasted the best per-screen average), under Warner Bros.' hopes of $12-15 million. The film cost $100 million to produce (mostly from overseas coin and god knows how much else it cost to market), and the folks behind it will be hoping that as it rolls out to foreign territories over the next couple of months, that international viewers will be a more receptive audience. But, distributors don't seem to be too worried.
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Cloud Atlas

To say that "Cloud Atlas" has been polarizing is an understatement. Critics seemed to either love it or loathe it, and even among The Playlist staff, some found it to be brilliant, and others a mess. This writer was certainly in the latter camp, but no matter what bloggers, fans or critics thought, mainstream audiences just didn't care. The movie opened to a far-below-expectation $9 million last weekend (though it boasted the best per-screen average), under Warner Bros.' hopes of $12-15 million. The film cost $100 million to produce (mostly from overseas coin and god knows how much else it cost to market), and the folks behind it will be hoping that as it rolls out to foreign territories over the next couple of months, that international viewers will be a more receptive audience. But, distributors don't seem to be too worried.

THR caught up with A Company (yes, that's what they're called) who are teaming with 20th Century Fox to bring the movie to screens in Russia and Eastern Europe. And they aren't too concerned about how the movie played in America, because maybe "Cloud Atlas" was just too smart for us. “Of course the U.S. release was disappointing, but it hasn't changed our release plans,” honcho Alexander van Dulmen said. “ 'Cloud Atlas' has a more intellectual approach and the European audience is more open to movies where you have to think a bit.”

How dare he....oh wait, we did make "Taken 2," a $115 million (and counting) massive blockbuster despite it being as dumb as rocks. So maybe there's something to the argument there. But it's really not about how smart or stupid a movie is, the marketing for "Cloud Atlas" probably just didn't resonate. The trailers and TV spots spent a lot of time talking about the themes of the movie, but didn't really convey why Tom Hanks had five different costumes or whatever. Given the choice to see a movie with a bunch of stars, but you're not sure what it's about, or the movie with Liam Neeson kicking ass or Ben Affleck saving Americans...you can do the math...

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