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.
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!