Simpsons: 'Ka-Ching' Is the Same in Any Language After the biggest international opening weekend for any American comedy in history (more than $93 million), the picture is proving to have legs. For two weeks in a row, it has topped foreign box-office charts — trouncing Shrek, Spider-Man, even Harry Potter.
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Simpsons: 'Ka-Ching' Is the Same in Any Language

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Simpsons: 'Ka-Ching' Is the Same in Any Language

Simpsons: 'Ka-Ching' Is the Same in Any Language

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Like it or not, Homer Simpson is on his way to taking over the world. "The Simpson's Movie" is a bonafide global hit, bringing in more than $190 million at the box office from Europe to Asia, to Africa, and South America.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "THE SIMPSONS: THE MOVIE")

Unidentified Man: 20th Century Fox presenta Homer.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOMER SIMPSON SCREAMING)

NORRIS: (Speaking in foreign language) Marge, Lisa, Bart, Maggie, Senior Burns...

NORRIS: The film has been translated into 31 different languages, and audiences are lining up to see it. In Argentina, for example, "The Simpsons" had the biggest weekend so far this year.

Man: "Los Simpsons La Pelicula". (Speaking in foreign language).

NORRIS: It just so happens that our film critic, Bob Mondello, is spending his summer vacation in Buenos Aires and that's where we caught up with him.

Hello, Bob. So glad you're taking time off from your vacation to talk to us.

BOB MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.

NORRIS: So, when you actually went to go to see "The Simpsons" or as it's called down there, "Los Simpson," did you have trouble getting in because I understand that the lines were quite long?

MONDELLO: Oh, it's totally mobbed. Their first weekend was really amazing. I tried to get in at the Abasto Shopping Centre, which is a real big place in downtown. And I got there at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and it was so mobbed that it was completely sold out for all of its shows, including the 1:00 a.m. shows. So, then I came back the following weekend, and I got there at 6 o'clock in the evening and it was still sold out until 11 o'clock at night. So, I ended up going to a big old theater downtown, with 1,000-seat place, with a curved screen, you'd love it.

NORRIS: How did Homer Simpson sound? What was his voice like?

MONDELLO: Apparently to an Argentine ear, it sounds entirely persuasive that he's kind of a dull-witted guy. To my ear, he sounds more intelligent in Spanish, and I don't know what to say about that exactly. I mean, doh, translates.

NORRIS: "The Simpsons" is about a lovable but dysfunctional family. The kids don't always respect the parents, the parents are usually the butt of the joke. Does that translate - do people, do audiences see something of themselves from "The Simpsons" or are they watching this in sort of laughing at what they seem to think as a, I don't know, idealized American family?

MONDELLO: Well, I think it is, to some extent, a portrait of American life. But, you know, the things that don't work and that do work in a family, that's absolutely the same here. I mean, when you look at Bart and Lisa and their relationship with their folks and things like that, that's totally understandable. And people not liking their bosses, I mean, that's really easy, too. So...

NORRIS: It's universal.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONDELLO: You know, those kinds of things. I think the essential nature of it works for all kinds of different societies. It's one reason that they're doing it in so many different languages now, in so many places around the world.

NORRIS: Well, Bob, before we let you go, one last question, how much does it cost to see a movie in Buenos Aires?

MONDELLO: Oh, it's a lot less expensive here. That's one, you know, that's one of the reasons actually that the big grosses here were so surprising. It made $2.3 million in just 182 theaters here in Argentina, which is $13,000 a theater, that would be a great gross in the United States. But prices here, it's less than $2 to see a picture of your child. And my adult ticket on a Saturday night, full price, was $3.43.

But, you know what's really strange is that this is the first year that I've been able to see movies that opened the day and date that they do in the United States. In previous years, they've opened a few weeks later. But I think they're so afraid of piracy now that they're opening them right away and it's the same date. And in fact, out on the street, you can already buy "Los Simpson" in pirated DVDs. So, I mean, they're right to be worried about piracy.

NORRIS: And do they eat popcorn on movie theaters there?

MONDELLO: Popcorn is here, although, it comes with sweet. I mean, you get...

NORRIS: It comes with what? What was that?

MONDELLO: You could chose between - no seriously, it's sugared popcorn. I totally wouldn't eat it myself. I've tasted it a couple of times, I really don't like it very much. But popcorn comes in bags and it's all sugared. It - they'd almost never do it with salt.

NORRIS: Maybe you could bring some back for us.

MONDELLO: I'd be happy to bring back some sugared popcorn. I'm going to do it, but you're going to have to eat it. I don't want anything to do it.

NORRIS: Okay. Well, enjoy the rest of your vacation, Bob. Thanks so much.

MONDELLO: I promise. It was great being here.

NORRIS: That was our film critic Bob Mondello speaking to us from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

You can see clips from "The Simpsons" movie, in English, at our Web site, npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "THE SIMPSONS" THEME)

NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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