Here are the smallest European countries The Last Airbender will be released in, and their populations.
Slovakia: 5.4 million
Finland: 5.3 million people
Norway: 4.7 million people
Latvia: 2.2 million
Estonia: 1.3 million
Iceland: 0.3 million
For these six countries, that's about 19.2 million people in total--less than the population of California, Texas, or New York, but bigger than any other state in the US. Un each of these European countries there will be some semblance of a marketing campaign, where Paramount and its distributors will try and reach out and entice the local population to go see the movie.
Each version of the film will be subtitled and commercials will advertise Posledný vládca vetra (Slovakia) Viimane õhutaltsutaja (Estonia) or Legenda par pedejo gaisa pavelnieku(Latvia)to local moviegoers.
Releasing movies internationally can be profitable. For James Cameron's Avatar, Iceland's box office receipts were $1.1 million despite that relatively tiny 0.3 million population. (The city of Los Angeles has 32 times as many people as the entire country of Iceland.)
Warner Bros made a clean $14 million off those six countries for the last Harry Potter movie. Even Slumdog Millionaire made a neat $2.8 million in Norway and $2.1 million in Finland.
While there's no way to make a hard comparison to the numbers above, here are some other numbers.
The "domestic" or North American box office is calculated by adding up grosses from the United States and Canada.
- Population of Asian Americans: 14.9 million
Population of Asian Canadians: 3.5 million
American Indian/Alaska Native: 2.4 million
Canadian First Nations, Inuit and Métis: 1.1 million
There are about 18.9 million people of Asian descent in the United States and Canada, and about 3.5 million people of American Indian/Alaska Native/First Nations/Inuit/Métis descent.
Add that up and you get 21.9 million people--that's the casting pool the production of The Last Airbender would have had to choose from if they had wanted to cast people of Asian and Inuit descent to play Avatar: The Last Airbender's ethnically Asian and Inuit heroes. Out of 21.9 million people, you're telling me they couldn't have found three young people equally as talented as Ringer, Peltz, and Rathbone?
(To help you get an understanding of the size of this pool, only two States in the US have a bigger population than 21.9 million--California and Texas.)
The 21.9 million people of Asian and Native descent in the US and Canada is bigger than the populations of the aforementioned countries Paramount will be courting--Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Finland, and Slovakia--combined.
So to all the people who argue that Asian Americans and Native Americans are "too small of a group" to deserve to be represented in movies or to have any purchasing power...that it's not worth it for Paramount to represent people from those groups in lead roles, well. It's certainly worth it for Paramount to shill The Last Airbender to countries with even smaller populations and purchasing power.
And if a group of 0.3 million people in Iceland can throw $1.1 million at Cameron's Avatar--in the middle of a terrible economic crisis--then what kind of domestic box office money is Paramount missing out on by alienating a community that consists of 21.9 million viewers in the US and Canada?