Industry Report: Europe and the rest of the world
Asia: A new focal point for Hollywood film studios
by Enora Jaffredo
- With its strong economy and increasing numbers of cinema venues, Asia is fast becoming an Eldorado for Hollywood film studios and a market that the Americans are determined to conquer, at whatever the cost.
Over recent years, with audiences becoming increasingly difficult to please and heads being turned by other products, Hollywood has had to change tactics - not to mention its target audience - in order to sell its films. The solution to this problem has come in the form of the Asian market and more specifically China, with its notoriously buoyant and ever-growing economy.
There is no denying that since the financial crisis of 2009, the economic markets of numerous Asian countries have soared, but the development of the film industry within these nations has seen growth that outstrips even that of the economy. In 2012, India, China, Japan and South Korea produced 2,700 films between them - twice the number of films produced in Europe and the US combined, and the same goes for new cinema venues: they are springing up pretty much everywhere in China and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. On average, approximately ten new movie theatres open every day in the country.
Today, China represents the second largest film market in the world and growth in this domain has only just begun, which explains why Hollywood has suddenly fixed its gaze on this part of the world; this and the fact that we westerners are losing interest in films produced by western studios.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the US is looking to export and sell its films in Asia and capitalise on the ever-growing demand for cinema.
In fact, with the increasing wealth of the Chinese middle classes, alongside the gradual opening up of the country and its slow but steady embrace of capitalism, the Chinese population is spending more and more free time at the cinema. Movie theatres are often full, and their appeal is only set to rise.
The huge number of films produced by the region is a further incentive for Hollywood to focus on Asia, and these films are increasingly popular with audiences. The domestic film figures are impressive: 91% in India, 65.5% in Japan, 59% in South Korea and 48.5% in China. Despite the public’s genuine interest in Hollywood films, American studios struggle to gain any real market share because the roots of the local film industries run deep. The film tradition, particularly in India, is an important one, which makes market penetration even more of a challenge.
In spite of the obstacles, Hollywood is succeeding in making a space for itself in Asia. Firstly, by way of co-productions with local studios and opening new premises directly on the ground - there are strict quotas in place for the importation of cultural goods in China and co-productions are not subject to these quotas - and secondly, by including increasing numbers of popular Asian actors in Hollywood film castings (see the latest Transformers films).
(Translated by Michelle Mathery)
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