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Not all American films travel easily. It takes expertise to connect them with foreign audiences

Not all American films travel easily. It takes expertise to connect them with foreign audiences

Like many in the film distribution business, Mimi Steinbauer has a story — "funniest example ever" — of the ingenious sleight of hand in marketing American movies to foreign lands.

In her case it was "Machete," a picture by Robert Rodriguez about a Mexican drug lord, an ex-federal agent and a racist Texas senator. With comedy, satire and caricature, the film was a violent and outlandish comment on America's immigration debate.

Buyers in Thailand, however, weren't interested in political overtones. "The Thais called it 'Machete: Splatter Blood' and there was blood all over the poster," said Steinbauer, president and chief executive of...

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