Why We Should Watch Foreign Films But Don’t
Written by Anna Marchesseault, Account Executive
The popularity of Netflix and other streaming platforms has allowed usexpand out horizons and watch foreign films. We have the ability to access thousands of international iconic and entertaining shows/movies. To name a few, Netflix offers “Squid Games”, “Elite”, “Spirited Away”, “Parasite”, and “Roma” which are all massively popular in the U.S..
International films seem on the rise, but on the contrary, they are declining. The U.S.'s box office for the top five foreign films has declined by 61% in the last seven years. There has been a steady decline where of the top five foreign films in 2007 it made $38 million, but in 2013 it only made $15 million. In the 1960s, Foreign films accounted for 10% of the U.S.'s box office, and in 1986 it was 7%. Now it only consists of .75% of the box office. This is a major problem where the world is learning about us yet we are learning nothing from them. This creates a toxic belief of American centrism where the only culture that matters is ours, and we are the center of the world.
The reason for Americans do not watch foreign films/ shows is because they are not advertised well. Because many foreign films are only accessible on some streaming platforms, the platforms and films do not advertise, thus resulting to a decline in views. Such as Netflix the only advertisement they do is put the trailer out on youtube so if that doesn’t get many views the show/film most likely doesn’t do well. It’s also very difficult for foreign films to get many viewers unless it gets massively popular such as Squid Games, which is rare. Foreign films are only accessible through some streaming platforms but are never in theaters unless the theater is specifically for foreign films. This leads to fewer viewers and overall leads to less money for the filmmakers making them less likely for platforms to pick up foreign films.
One of the main reasons people do not watch foreign films is because Americans don’t want to read and watch at the same time which causes many of them to not watch foreign films. In many other countries, it's very common to speak multiple languages, but in America it is not as common, leaving Americans to only have the option of reading subtitles. This chart shows the percentage based on the ethnicity of how many Americans prefer to watch foreign films with subtitles vs. dubbed with English subtitles. This is a large percentage where 59% of the total adults rather see a dubbed foreign film than read the subtitles. This is not due to sheer laziness but rather people like to multitask and want to go on their phones while watching a movie or tv show. Many movies aren’t dubbed because it’s more expensive than subtitles. Dubbed movies can cost as much as 10x the price of a subtitle movie. Even with the high cost it still doesn’t gurantee it will be a well-dubbed movie since this is very hard to do and if it's not a perfect dubb then it will plummet.
So why does this all matter? Foreign films allow Americans to see different cultures around the world and see another perspective other than our own. This can be very beneficial where it creates open-mindedness and decreases stereotypes of other countries/cultures. Another benefit that goes along with this is an accurate representation. Having foreign movies in America gives Americans an accurate understanding of other countries, and allows Americans to see their culture displayed on screens. Having representation is very important in film because it can break down barriers within cultures and have role models that can fit every type of mold. Lastly, foreign films/shows can show important issues and events in these countries which can gain support from Americans. Through screens, Americans can learn major issues around the world, and by bringing awareness, Americans can be better informed to help other countries.
Foreign films bring people together from around the world and without them, a separation between countries is formed. If Americans keep going at this rate of not watching foreign films/shows, it could lead to the increased stigma of countries and lack of knowledge about different cultures. Also, foreign films bring their style to the table and it brings to light other types of film styles to Americans. Without this, it minimizes the content we view and limits it to only American film, which boxes us in. Foreign films get us out of our comfort zone by watching something quite different from us and hearing another language we aren’t familiar with. We see new customs, food, and landscape which can show us something we may never know that we liked. Without foreign films/shows, we will continue to stay in our comfort zones and this can create uniformity.