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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsHollywood is considered to be one of the key centres of US cultural influence. Movies produced in Hollywood are watched all over the world, from Europe, to Asia, to Africa, and to South America. Since the 1930s, Hollywood movies dominate the box office of many countries. Why? Well, there are three factors that lay behind Hollywood's dominance-- the concentration of specialised talents, such as costume designers and sound mixers and of economic resources in Los Angeles and in its region; the economies of scale enabled by the size of the US domestic market; and a widespread and very effective global distribution system. That said, there are certain limitations to this worldwide dominance.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsFor example, several countries such as Argentina, France, Egypt, Indonesia, or China have set up trade barriers or quotas to prevent an excessive influence of Hollywood's movie industry and to protect their own. In other countries, the barriers to Hollywood movies are cultural. For example, in a country like India, the percentage for Hollywood movies in the total film revenue can be as low as 3% to 6%, because the population prefers watching Indian movies. Even relatively successful Hollywood blockbusters generate lower revenues than their Bollywood counterparts. Also, the rise of dynamic film industries in other countries around the world represent a limit to the longstanding hegemony of Hollywood.

Skip to 1 minute and 54 secondsBollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria are prominent examples of this, as they produce a remarkable number of movies. Even if they are not close to equal Hollywood in terms of global outreach, they indeed proved successful in their region and worldwide through their diaspora. In this scenario, cities play a strong role in creating alternative movie industries. Think of Cannes, Berlin, or Pusan, with their famous film festivals where independent and alternative movies get screened and promoted. Finally, cities can also nurture alternative scenes where new styles are created from the blending of different cultures, like in the case of Mumbai and Hong Kong, which have deeply rooted movie production in Asia. Let's look at the case of Hong Kong.

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 secondsFor several decades, the city represented the third global movie centre and enjoyed major commercial successes, having a strong influence in East Asia and beyond. As an interface between China and the Western world, Hong Kong has played a strong role in the dynamism of its movie industry. During the Chinese civil war in the late 1940s, many migrants from mainland China, including cinema professionals from Shanghai, relocated to Hong Kong, and the city rose to become the main Chinese movie production centre. In the 1970s, the famous Golden Harvest Studio turned martial arts movies into a worldwide phenomenon by launching Bruce Lee's career. The actor then rose to stardom status in Asia and in the West.

Skip to 3 minutes and 38 secondsThe 1980s and 1990s was a golden era for Hong Kong cinema. Apart from martial arts stars like Jackie Chan or Jet Li, the city became recognised as a major centre, especially for action movies, as well as nurture the emergence of art films acclaimed by international critique, like In the Mood for Love by Wong Karwai. In conclusion, while Hollywood still dominates the global movie industry, other cities have emerged and can emerge as alternative movie production centres and promote specific styles rooted in their local traditions. Movies created in such scenes have been argued to challenge the cultural stereotypes dictated by Hollywood.

Beyond Hollywood?

This video shows the role of cities in the rise of new voices in the global movie industry. It explains the dominance of Hollywood and its limitations. It also talks about the rise of influential movie production centres far away from Hollywood, focusing especially on the case of Hong Kong.

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What kinds of movies are shown in the movie theatres in your city? Are these mainly Hollywood-produced films?

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This video is from the free online course:

Cultural Diversity and the City

European University Institute (EUI)

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