Friday, 20 September 2013

Globalisation and Hollywood

When sitting down for the latest blockbuster cinematic production, most people aren't likely to ponder where the idea of the film was drawn from. However, an analysis of major US and Asian films in recent times indicate there are many similarities between the two markets.

'The Departed', a Martin Scorsese-directed film
based on a Hong Kong original titled 'Infernal
Affairs' (Source:
In 2004, Christina Klein observed that 'Hollywood is becoming Asianized in diverse ways, while Asian film industries are in turn becoming Hollywoodized' (Klein 2004, p. 361).

In the decade since asserting this claim, there is much evidence to suggest that these patterns are continuing.

Analysing the US film industry reveals many major productions since 2004 which have been heavily influenced by the Asian market. As Klein suggests, these come in diverse forms, including films: based on Asian culture; directed by accomplished Asian filmmakers; and, those which have been re-adapted to suit international tastes.

One man who has been central to this diversification has been Taiwanese-born Hollywood filmmaker Ang Lee, who directed the award-winning Brokeback Mountain (2005), which grossed $US83 million at the box office, and Life of Pi (2012), which took home almost $US125 million, respectively (IMDb 2013a; IMDb 2013b). Lee was awarded the Oscar for Best Director for both of these productions (WideScreenings 2013).

Meanwhile, other box office hits such as 2006's The Departed (grossing $US132 million) have been adapted and remade based on Asian originals - in this case, on a Hong Kong film titled Infernal Affairs (Lagel 2006).

It is also worth mentioning Hollywood blockbusters such as The Karate Kid (2010)Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Transformers (2007), each of which were influenced by aspects of Asian culture.

For Klein (2004, p. 363), such films have 'had a denationalising effect on the US film industry', where movies' 'style and content has been ... tailored to the world market'.

At the other end of the spectrum, US films have tended to dominate Asian markets over recent decades, though local filmmakers appear to have discovered a way to overcome their American competitors - by following their initiative.

In China this year, ticket sales for local films jumped 144 per cent, while imported films dropped by 21 per cent (Frater 2013). Patrick Frater puts this growth down to Chinese filmmakers 'taking a page from the Hollywood script, offering genre films, including horror, thrillers and romantic comedies, all told in a slick and fast-paced style'.

                              'Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons' is a Chinese action-comedy 
                                   film which smashed local box office records when it was released in February 2013.

Similar developments have occurred in South Korea, where last month domestic films attracted 'about nine times the rate of Hollywood products' across one particular weekend (Goldsea 2013).

Indeed, whilst this signals a decline in US film dominance of the Asian market, it is clear Hollywood films retain importance for the way they influence the content of Asian productions.

It will certainly be interesting to see what steps the US film industry takes to tap back into this lucrative market.


Frater, P 2013, 'Is China Outgrowing Hollywood Film, TV Industry?', 12 September, retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

Goldsea 2013, 'Korean Films Overwhelm Hollywood Imports in Domestic Market', retrieved 19 September 2013, <>.

IMDb 2013a, 'Brokeback Mountain', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

IMDb 2013b, 'Life of Pi', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

Klein, Christina 2004, 'Martial arts and globalisation of US and Asian film industries', Comparative America Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 360-384.

Lagel, L 2006, 'Infernal Affairs vs. the remake, The Departed', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

WideScreenings 2013, 'List of best director Oscar winners and nominees they beat', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

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