According to recent figures from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) almost 70 per cent of the studios’ annual revenue from box office now comes from international markets...Although the global appetite for Hollywood movies is growing it’s stronger in some parts of the world than others. China and Russia are both big expanding markets. According to the MPAA, Chinese box office revenues grew by an astonishing 36% last year to make it the world’s second biggest movie market after the US. An Ernst & Young report predicts that the US domestic market will be eclipsed by China in 2020.
Although China imposes a quota on the number of US films that can be shown in its cinemas, Hollywood has been busy adapting to the needs of the Chinese moviegoer. US film critic Matt Singer has noted: “With China, Iron Man 3 had extra scenes and extra characters who were barely in – or not in at all – the American version. If you saw the film at a movie theater in China you had this extra subplot that involved Chinese characters.”
...One bonus of the growing international market is that it’s become a big safety net for Hollywood movies which fail domestically. There are countless examples of a picture stumbling at the US box office but doing well in global markets. Last year’s sci-fi war film Battleship – starring Liam Neeson and Rihanna – only generated $65m in ticket sales within the US but brought in an impressive $237m overseas. The global marketplace is bringing profitability to pictures that would sink if they were relying just on the domestic box office...
Commercially, Hollywood’s reliance on overseas markets has been a major success. Catering increasingly to international audiences may have its disadvantages, but the global marketplace is keeping the Hollywood studios pulsating with life. In uncertain economic times the American movie is retaining its primacy as one of the country’s most robust exports.
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