A report today from the UK’s Financial Times headlined “Disney Axing Local Language Film Unit” wasn’t really news for most in Hollywood and certainly not Burbank. Disney backed away from its strategy of producing local language films with local actors and made the decision to close the small Burbank office overseeing the effort in June. That was spelled out in a Fast Company profile of studio chief Rich Ross, who early on in his tenure had set up the team to focus on limited-release Disney-branded films in Brazil, Russia, India and China. The economics were always tricky and the good will generated was tough to quantify. When Ross saw big box office returns on Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 ($65M in Russia) and Cars 2 in those same countries, he decided it made more sense to spend the money on marketing and distributing the studios’ franchise films than to bank on local talent. Disney will still consider attaching its brand to local productions. But the decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
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