The World is Your Cinema

AUDIENCE IN MOVIE THEATER, 1935

 

When we think of films, we generally conjure a picture of green screens, famous celebrities, universal studios and the Hollywood sign. This is definitely justified; according to Harvard business Review, Hollywood was responsible for 80% of films screened around the world by the 1930’s. It’s easy to forget that other countries around the world have their own film industries with a global audience so conditioned to American accents on our screens that our younger generation are beginning to adopt their phrases and mimic their expression. Films are an important aspect of the arts and a nation’s cultural identity, but are often overlooked and swallowed by Hollywood’s large shadow.

Globalisation has allowed for transnational film. Transnational, as opposed to national, is something that does not belong to one group in particular, however is representative of and incorporates elements from several different nations and cultures. This poses the question of where films belong. One film may contain actors of several different nationalities, scenes shot in locations around the world and the production process carried out in more than one country. Furthermore, films are altered before being shown in cinemas in another country to meet the desires of different consumer groups. Can all films be given ownership by a certain country, or are they becoming a globally owned product?

There are certainly recognisable characteristics in films from particular countries, such as Japanese anime or artistic French films. Certain countries are identified with particular genres, and a nation’s film industry therefore assists in shaping and conveying its culture. Hollywood films are unique in the fact that they dominate the market and are shown, and popular, in so many countries. Films unique to other countries are not as readily available throughout the world, if at all, and hardly any are screened in theatres outside their own nation.

Australia entered the film industry as a strong contender, producing the first feature length film in 1906, however Hollywood quickly overtook by booking out cinemas with their films and purchasing shares in film providers and cinemas. There was a revival of the Australian film industry in the 1970’s when the point of necessity for films as part of a countries expression was argued and the Australian government funded a film-making school. Australia has since produced films to assist the economy and promote tourism, such as with Baz Luhrmann’s aptly named Australia, however Australian films only account for less than five per cent of Australian box office showings.

So why does Hollywood dominate the film industry? Based on a strongly built industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue and includes multiple talent, their movies depict a Utopian world of coveted Western culture. Not only is Hollywood good at making films; they’re talented at selling them around the world. Stephen Galloway wrote on Foreign Policy:

Compared to Hollywood productions, foreign films don’t even play that well in their home markets. Despite the relative decline of America and a huge spurt of filmmaking in countries such as Brazil, China, and South Korea, Hollywood still dominates in box offices across the world…all of the world’s top 100 grossing films were Hollywood productions.”

While some countries are particular with what can be viewed in their country, such as China’s censorship on Hollywood films, other countries are no longer in control of what people can view due to online streaming and websites such as Netflix, opening the issue of access and copyright. With Hollywood films being so universal, perhaps all films are too, no matter where they come from.

Sources:

How Hollywood Conquered the World (All Over Again)

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