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Globalisation is considered as a modern developing movement that created and significantly changed concepts and trends in the global film industry. The term “globalisation” refers to “a process beyond that of internationalisation when the systematic relations between countries affect global cultural, economic, and, to a certain extent, the political system or network formation” (Mitkus & Nedzinskaitė-Mitkė 2016, p. 65). As the flow of global media content is currently increasing, film production becomes the most significant creative industry with multimillion business activities. In recent years the majority of film-released countries experienced the development of national film industries, local motion pictures’ quality improvement and increasing of investments in home film production. Nevertheless, the global film market is predominated by the American film industry, and the theory of “global imperialism” intensifies concerns of western culture’s influence on the audience throughout the world. The purpose of this study is to analyse the condition of the global film market, American dominance in film production, and investigate globalisations impact on non-Hollywood films, exemplified by several relevant motion pictures.
Global Film Market: American Dominance
There are a significant number of countries currently producing media content, which contribute to worldwide cultural diversity, and a large part of this content is created in Asia. This content emerges from multiple massive globalisation centres which can compete with the American film market. Justifying that in recent years, globalisation cannot be described as having “a distinctly American face” (Crane 2014, p. 2). Though despite the progress in cultural diversification extension in the global film market, the United States remains the most significant player in the international media field. According to the World Box Office, the first twenty positions in the list are annually comprised of American films and co-productions (Crane 2014).
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There are three factors which explain the dominance of American media culture (Crane 2014). The first one is a highly effective system of distribution, which provides the prevalence of American films in their home market and abroad. A combination of talent resources with financial capabilities to produce high-rated films plays a significant role in leadership establishment. Besides, the advantage of the American media industry to offer its content to other nations at a lower price than domestic production contributes to American cultural expansion as well. American production system consists of two levels – the first one produces highly expensive blockbusters for a global release and large-scale box office sales. There are several conglomerates in the American film industry which occupy with the production of premium quality content. Another level of production is filled with low-budget films predominantly for the home market with remote chances to be released abroad.
The United States currently holds a record as the country with the highest cost of films among other nations. The average price of a cinema production by Paramount film-making companies reaches $100 million with approximately $23 million per film (Crane 2014). In comparison, the British cinema industry spends $13 million per film; while the average cost of French or Egyptian cinema is no more than $5 million (Crane 2014). The highest price of American blockbusters is defined by not only production process and high-quality special effects appliance but talents’ compensations and advertising campaign as well.
Alarmingly one-third of an American motion picture’s budget is dedicated to excessive promotion and global advertising. Frequent cinema production on the territory of other countries with low-level wages allows America to economise filming (Crane 2014). The United States’ media distributional system consists of regional office networks, effective publicity campaigns, a saturation of the film market, and simultaneous film exhibition in theatres all over the world. Another reason for the American media market’s success is the extension and global influence of American culture. In the case of competition between national cultural policies, American policy, supported by the government, commonly overcome its opponents. Without these advantages, the American film industry and its production would be less prosperous than it currently is.
Classification of Film Industries Worldwide
According to local box offices, almost all cinema-producing countries, represented in the global film market, have American film predominance (Crane 2014). These motion pictures frequently occupy the first ten places in top charts. Other positions belong to local films, and the level of investment influences their representation to production and foreign films’ import limitation governed by national cultural police. According to the statistics provided by the European Audiovisual Observatory, after comparing of film policies and industries all “66 countries, which participate in the global film market” can be divided into four main groups (Crane 2014). This division is defined by the number of annually produced films and the extension of local films in the national media market. The presented figures demonstrate the stratification of the global film market.
The first category of countries can be called “super producers.” It consists of four countries (India, USA, China, and Japan), represented internationally, their total number of produced films reaches 400 pictures (Crane 2014). The distinctive quality of super producers consists of a predominance of local films in their national markets – around 75% from a total number of released motion pictures (Crane 2014). The participation of these countries in global film production and distribution is varying, for instance, India is an annual leader in the number of produced films which receive the highest share of local film market (Dastidar & Elliott 2019). Indian film’s worldwide distribution is insignificant, compared with the USA’s dominance, though the number of co-productions and globally released films is currently increasing. This country presently installed highly effective production system with “dominant understandings of professional organisation and discipline” (Miller 2015, p. 31). China and Japan produce local high-budget blockbusters with hi-tech visual effects, famous actors, and a massive advertising campaign. Even though the distribution of Chinese and Japanese cinema in the global market is unsubstantial, they occupy local markets, as the audience prefer national films rather than foreign ones (Crane 2014).
The second category prevalently consists of European countries (France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany), Argentina, and South Korea. These countries are significant producers with more than 100 produced films per year, and their local market share is approximately 27% (Crane 2014). According to studies, most films of major producers are European, and they are occasionally released outside their original countries, although co-productions with the USA frequently penetrate the global film market.
Other countries are related to medium and minor producers, their total number of released films is between 26 and 100 motion pictures per year, and average local market share does not surpass 26% (Crane 2014). The exception in market share belongs to Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. Being a totalitarian country, Iran blocks external cinema import, and its market share of the local film is absolute. Turkey has 50% of nationally released movies in the local market as the production demand from the national cultural policy has increased (Crane 2014). Egypt has a highly organised cinema industry comparing with other countries on the continent. An extensive network of production studios and distribution offices allows Egypt to possess 80% of local films in the national film market and distribute its pictures in other Arabic-spoken countries (Crane 2014).
Globalisation Patterns, Detected in Non-Hollywood Films
The majority of scholars examine globalisation in the film industry as the creation of the global film market with various level of penetration for film-producing countries and the dominance of American media content. The particular features of the globalisation effect can be observed across multiple motion pictures through the investigation of their works. In the first instance, it is American influence on non-Hollywood films. Standard plot devices, stereotyped phrases, and scenes, typical for American films, can be currently noticed in foreign motion pictures. The second feature is connected with the presence of ideas and performed activities which became globally typical for films, regardless of their origin. In addition, filmmakers from various countries include elements, antithetical to their national culture, to attract a foreign audience and support the film’s penetration in the global market. These patterns of globalisation can be distinguished in following motion pictures and support their worldwide release.
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“The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (2008) is a South Korean action film, directed by Kim Jee-Woon. It describes the adventures of a bandit (The Bad), a thief (The Weird) and a bounty hunter (The Good) in Manchuria during the Second World War. Every character pursues his personal goal; the Good should recapture the Bad for reward, while the Bad needs to receive a secret map, stolen by the Weird. Based on the storyline, the three personages gather and have a significant battle against the Imperial Japanese Army for a map. The map supposedly leads to Imperial gold; they survive to discover the absence of treasure. This film obtains all features of globalisation. It had a considerable influence on US media culture as it could be recognised as a western, which traditionally is an American genre of art. In all scenes featuring gunfights there are reminiscences of not only films, dedicated to Old West life, but American and Italian co-production “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” (1966) by Sergio Leone. In addition, the storyline contains a traditional worldwide pattern of main characters’ invincibility in severe battles.
“The Host” (2006) is another South Korean film depicting a hideous aggressive monster, created by chemicals that had been dumped into a river. The global concept of a dangerous creature, created by humans, persecuted by all governmental military forces and conclusively destroyed by the main character providing a globalisation impact on this film. The scene which features a kidnapping of the main character’s daughter by the monster and keeping her alive hereafter hints towards the scene from Hollywood film “King Kong” (2005). Besides, the presence of foreigners (American military) in a storyline is supposed to increase the audience’s interest abroad. Production costs and expectations of “The Host” were compensated with worldwide acceptance and efficient release in the home market. It went on to penetrate Asian, European, American and Latin American national film markets (Boxman Office Mojo 2019).
Another motion picture for investigation is a co-production of Spain and Argentina “El Angel” (2018), directed by Luis Ortega. It depicts the life of Carlos Robledo Puch, a notorious serial killer; sentenced to life imprisonment. He had already spent the most sustainable prison term in the history of Argentina. Even though this motion picture is based on real-life events, a pleasant appearance and romantic relationships of the main character support the increasing global trend of serial killers’ romanticisation. This concept, derived from the USA film industry, can be traced in Hollywood films “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) and “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” (2019).
The last movie is a horror film from Israel titled, “The Golem” (2018). It follows the main character, Hanna, as she performs a religious ritual to invoke a golem, a mythic monster, for her community’s protection against an outbreak of a deadly plague. Unbeknownst to Hanna, the conjured creature carries a threat towards the very people she wanted to protect. This film embraces the previously described global concept of a created monster, decimated exceptionally by a protagonist. Another resonating scene is when the priest tries to persuade Hanna’s husband to divorce her as she isn’t regarded as a valuable woman as she cannot produce a child. The husband refuses to leave his wife, although it was not a common decision for the 17th century when the storyline was developed. This characterises the modern tendency to embrace women’s rights and decrease gender discrimination.
In conclusion, globalisation has a significant influence on film production and distribution in every national film market. The creation of the global media field, American dominance in the creative industry, and different opportunities to access global films impose film-producing countries to undertake transformations for effective competition in the worldwide market. National markets are obliged to undertake economic reforms in the film industry to produce high-quality films, capable of penetrating the international market. Innovations can be traced in films’ storylines as well – employment of stereotyped expressions and standard development of the action, borrowed from American film culture, exploitation of globally common ideas and insertion of foreign culture’s elements.
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