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The International Market Might Save 'Cloud Atlas'

Cloud Atlas is undeniably one of the weirdest movies ever to be handed a hundred million budget. The Wachowski siblings / Tom Tykwer collaboration explores themes of fate, love, and human nature through six interweaving storylines that feature the same actors in different roles, sometimes playing different sexes or races. That’s not exactly the most mainstream premise. And until now, the gamble seems to have resulted in a loss for the film’s German backers. After more than two weeks in release, the movie has only grossed a little more than 20 million dollars here in America.

Same old song: interesting movies fail horribly, while safe pap succeeds. Which, whatever. Financial success isn’t proof of a movie’s quality. But if filmmakers were rewarded more often for making stranger and more adventurous stuff, then we’d probably get a more diverse slate of releases. It’s a shame, but nothing new.

Except now it looks like Cloud Atlas might be redeemed at the box office. The film opened in Russia and Ukraine this past weekend, and grossed nearly 10 million dollars there. It beat out Skyfall! This is a good indication for the movie as it expands into more foreign markets. The international box office has become increasingly vital in recent years. Just as one example, it’s the reason that the Ice Age franchise is so popular (the latest installment being the third highest-grossing movie of the year so far). Perhaps the rest of the world could at least let Cloud Atlas recoup its budget. The Wachowskis and Tykwer deserve that much, at least. These are artists who deserve to be given the tools they need to tell our weirdest stories. I wish Cloud Atlas the best (and encourage you to see it if it’s still showing near you, because it really is worth seeing).

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