Over the last decade, Russia has become one of the leading international film markets. Just look at "Titanic 3-D": In 1998, the original film played in only 32 theaters in the country, compared with roughly 1,000 showing the new version of the movie this year.
But as a result of such globalization, Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov said he fears American movies "are losing their voice."
"The American film industry isn't American anymore -- it's global," said the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director, who was in Las Vegas this week to accept CinemaCon's International Filmmaker of the Year award. "Nobody makes movies for American audiences anymore. To be understandable everywhere, you have to deal with basic ideas -- very relatable for everybody."
He's even unsure about how his upcoming 3-D horror film, which presents the 16th president of the United States as -- well, a vampire hunter -- will play with moviegoers in some parts of the country.
"I don't know how people in Lousiana or Alabama will accept the idea that Confederates were supported by vampires," he said with a chuckle.
Despite its American themes, Bekmambetov said he thinks that "Vampire Hunter" has the potential to play well overseas, describing it as a superhero movie at its core -- a genre to which international audiences tend to gravitate.
The filmmaker said that in Russia, at least, he has witnessed the significant impact Hollywood films have had on local audiences.
"Hollywood films destroyed the Soviet Union in the '80s," he said. "The whole revolution -- perestroika -- happened because of American movies, I feel. When the first VHS players appeared, everyone had one in their house and could copy and distribute movies. People thought, 'Oh my God, there is a great life somewhere else.'"
-- Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas
Photo: Benjamin Walker and director Timur Bekmambetov on the set of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Credit: Stephen Vaughan