Only 14 Months Late, ‘A Monster in Paris’ Finally Reaches America

Amazon_A Monster in Paris BR cover

Via: Amazon.com

You may or may not be familiar with A Monster in Paris. It’s an animated film produced by Luc Besson that never seemed to make it to American shores despite a limited release in Canada (and a proper English dub too.) It was first mentioned on this blog nearly two years ago, and Irish animater Nichola Kehoe was exceedingly generous in providing a guest review when the film was released there in February 2012. Now, fourteen months after its premiere, A Monster in Paris finally gets an official US release.

The Facts

With thanks to Mike Bastoli over at Big Screen Animation, we learn that the film gets its release through the good people at Shout! Factory. They’re not being picky either, with both a 3-D Blu-Ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack and a plain ol’ vanilla DVD being your choices come April 16th.

I’m excited for this film, and have been ever since the I saw the trailer above (and even more so since Katie Shanahan,  a.k.a. Kt Shy gushed about it after a Toronto screening). It looks fantastic and Luc Besson being the experienced director that he is, the story is sure to be at least competent in concept as well as execution.

Why The Heck Did it Take 14 Months?

Unfortunately, the film did not do great business at the box office despite being a hit with the critics (isn’t that always the case). Yours truly was even admonished by Digital Domain founder Scott Ross for suggesting the film was a model to follow. (It lost ~$10 million.)

In any case, no US partner was involved in the production. This alone would have made getting into that market a lot tougher. Yes, GKids has been known to take on independent foreign films with success. Why they did not do so in this case remains unknown, but their 2012 slate was quite a full one so it’s a possibility that A Monster in Paris simply didn’t get the luck of the draw.

Without a theatrical release, DVD sales are a steep uphill battle (no pre-existing public exposure). Shout! have a bit of a knack for precisely this kind of thing though (they released, and I have, DVD boxsets for the DIC series Sonic Undergound if that’s any indication). Discussions take a while and so finally, more than 14 months after its premiere, we’ll finally be able to see A Monster in Paris in the US without having to resort to ‘special imports’ or The Pirate Bay.

The Questions This Debacle Raises

From a fan’s point of view, it’s ludicrous that we’ve had to wait so long for a film. OK so there aren’t that many of us (or maybe there are, if Google search recommendations are anything to go by), but we do have money that we’d gladly give to see the film. I’m a patient man, but plenty of others are not, and by waiting so long, the producers may well have forgone some revenue. A $10 million deficit is a large amount, but getting some money back is better than none at all, right?

Secondly, what exactly has been going on in those 14 months? I doubt that the producers have been searching for a US distributor all that time. All signs seem to indicate that none was lined up before the film’s completion and all mentions of a US release end around the time of the film’s premiere.

Lastly, how does this delay benefit the studio that produced it? Not being in the US market until now will undoubtedly have hurt their revenues, and not just in the obvious ways. Yup, CGI filmmaking technology continues to develop a rapid pace, and a film released last year (let alone more than a year ago) is going to look outdated no matter how well it was made. By releasing so long after its production, it will run the risk of appearing to those unfamiliar with it (read: the general public) as an inferior, cheaper production than it really is. All told, it hurts the studio’s chances and opportunities for creating another feature film.

How To Ensure It Doesn’t Happen Again

Europe remains a productive creator of animation (both theatrical and otherwise), but I fear that in the case of A Monster in Paris, not enough effort was put into making the film available in other parts of the world. That’s not to say they didn’t try; the film was lip-synched to the English script, not the French one, but of course that won’t bring in revenue on its own.

The US market is massive, and complicated to boot. Unfortunately it is also dominated by a few large chains; chains that are cozy with the large US studios and would far rather show a film from one of those than a foreign, independent one. GKids has so many issues with them, that they almost always avoid them; favouring independent cinemas instead.

This situation is where a service like Tugg would come in useful, allowing independent players the ability to reach mainstream audiences without the cost of a traditional blanket marketing campaign.

Until then, April can’t come soon enough.

Would you have seen A Monster in Paris in the cinema in the US? Why or why not? Let us know below!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000518304749 Kevin Kess

    I for one would love to see “A Monster in Paris” in a U.S. movie theater.

    Upon reading this article, it had me thinking: “Why is it that some animated films(whether they are based on a comic or on an animated series) made in the continents of Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, etc manage to get a release in every other country EXCEPT for the United States of America?

    I’d like to give you examples of what I mean, Mr. Kenny. Have you ever heard of “Asterix and Obelix?” How about “Lucky Luke”? “Barbe-Rouge” (or Redbeard in the English translation)? Yes, I know, the examples that I named are comics and all but one of them have had an animated feature film released based on them. But, it’s kind of telling that this one film took 14 months to get a DVD/Blu Ray release here in the U.S. while two of the comics that I mentioned are just now having their films uploaded to YouTube (in their original French language along with dubs in, Hungarian, Spanish, and in English).

    What’s saddening about that is that they were never released in the States when they were first shown in theaters and when they did make their way to our shores, it was showcased in out-of the-way places almost no one knows about.

    • http://animationanomaly.com/ Charles Kenny

      Yup Kevin, I sure have heard of those comics, and of their respective cinematic outings.

      While there are many cultural barriers that films have to overcome, they often pale in comparison to the economic ones. You have to remember that many decisions about films are made by accountants or managers who are given specific info/facts about a release based on market research or something similar, and they make a decision based off of that.

      Never mind how good the movie actually is, if they believe it won’t work in the States, that’s what they go with, and sadly we never find out if that’s really the case or not.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000518304749 Kevin Kess

        So, do you mean to say that the only reason for Asterix and/or Lucky Luke never making any kind appearance (especially in the case of the latter) is the presumption on the part of French comic book publishers that such comic book series and the films that accompany them would not be profitable in the U.S.? Nevermind, giving the films a chance to be experienced by English speaking audiences outside of Europe.

        I’ve just begun to watch the Asterix and Lucky Luke films for the first time through the aforementioned site and I like what I’ve seen so far of them.

        Maybe it’s because I’m an American and would like to experience other comic books that aren’t superhero-related, but I can’t be the only one who wants to see Franco-Belgian (and various other European comics along with their respective films) to be given a chance to see success on my side of the pond.

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