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Culture et politique

Hollywood’s Global Outlook: Economic Expansionism and Production Strategy

La perspective mondiale d’Hollywood : expansion économique et stratégique de production
Nolwenn Mingant
p. 99-110

Résumé

Depuis le milieu des années soixante, l’importance du marché extérieur pour les  majors américaines a beaucoup varié. Marché mineur à la fin des années soixante-dix et dans les années quatre-vingt, il prend de plus en plus d’importance depuis le début des années quatre-vingt dix. L’arrivée de nouvelles technologies ainsi que l’ouverture de nouveaux territoires sont les deux phénomènes qui expliquent ce regain d’importance. Depuis le début des années quatre-vingt dix, les majors se sont donc lancées dans une nouvelle vague d’expansion économique mondiale. La question centrale de cet article est alors la suivante. Le désir qu’ont les majors hollywoodiennes d’expansion économique mondiale a-t-il une influence sur leurs choix de production, et, en particulier, a-t-il une influence sur le caractère national des films produits? En suivant pas à pas la façon dont Hollywood observe le marché extérieur depuis quarante ans, puis sa tendance croissante à prendre en compte dans les choix de production les goûts du public étranger, nous nous poserons inévitablement la question des conséquences culturelles de ces pratiques économiques, autour des notions d’universalité, d’internationalisation et d’identité nationale, jusqu’à ce que finalement se révèle à nous une nouvelle identité hollywoodienne: Glocalwood.

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Entrées d’index

Index chronologique :

20th century, XXe siècle

Index thématique et géographique :

cinéma, cinema, histoire, history, société, society, United States, États-Unis
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Texte intégral

  • 1  The development of new distribution channels, such as pay-tv or video, though also an element in t (...)
  • 2  This article concentrates only on the majors’ production strategies, leaving aside distribution st (...)

1Hollywood’s desire for economic expansion has existed since the 1910s. However, it has been accelerating in recent decades, which explains why, in this article, I concentrate on a period of time from the late 1960s up to now. Since the mid-1960s, the importance of the foreign market for the Hollywood majors has fluctuated. It represented 50% of total cinema revenues in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It lost its importance from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, and then regained it, reaching 40% of total theatrical rentals in 1992 and a historic 51% in 1994. Since the mid-1990s, the foreign market has been especially vital to the Hollywood majors. This renaissance of the foreign market for the majors has been accompanied by the opening of new markets since the 1980s1 : Japan (the number one foreign market since the early 1980s), South Korea, the former USSR and Eastern Europe, and more recently Vietnam and China. Thus, the majors’ active presence abroad (notably the opening of markets) results in more revenues and, in turn, these growing revenues from abroad incite the majors to be more and more active in their economic expansion strategies. This leads us to consider the central question: Does the Hollywood majors’ desire for global economic expansion influence their production2 choices, and, in particular, does it influence the national character of the films produced?

Observing the foreign market

2The first aspect to be studied in order to understand Hollywood’s production strategy is how the American film industry has observed the foreign market. A very enlightening method for the analysis of this phenomenon is to concentrate on the entertainment newspaper Variety, the reference for the American film industry. We will first develop the study of a specific column, as it is very representative: the ‘‘International Box Office’’ section.

  • 3  Examples can be found in the following Variety issues: October 5, 1977, November 3, 1982, Septembe (...)

3Before 1977, there were articles dedicated to the foreign market, but not in any systematic way. Then, Variety made a first attempt at presenting the situation for American films simultaneously in different markets by publishing articles about Great Britain, France and Japan, for example, on consecutive pages. These articles increasingly tended to be presented on the same page. In 1982, Variety went one step further, separating these articles from the others on the page, thus forming a consistent entity. In 1984, this presentation was formally granted the status of a column and named “International Box Office”. In 1988, in a general presentation change of the newspaper, Domestic and International Box Office results shared the same typographical presentation. However, only domestic figures were complemented by a table. Finally, in 1991, the International Box Office column was also organized into one table. The data from 14 countries were presented at a glance. In the 1990s, the table was sometimes subdivided into ‘‘Asia/Pacific Box Office’’ and ‘‘European Box Office’’. Often, the tables ‘‘Weekly Box Office Report US-Canada’’ and ‘‘International Box Office’’ were on facing or consecutive pages3.

4So, the study of the ‘‘International Box Office’’ column shows two evolutions. First, the foreign market has become more and more important (the column is more detailed and easier to read). Secondly, it has become as important as the domestic market, with results presented in the same way on opposite pages. So, whereas in the early 1970s, the reader was expected to get foreign box office information in a haphazard way, in the late 1990s, he was able to compare domestic and foreign information at a glance.

  • 4 Variety, February 5, 1969.
  • 5 Variety, November 14, 1994.

5When we examine the content of the articles dedicated to the foreign market, we note that such articles were mostly to be found in the late 1960s and have returned since the early 1990s. Despite the very detailed information given, the striking characteristic emphasized constantly is the foreign market’s unpredictability, as these two titles show: “International film going tastes très complex”4, “Exceptions are the rule at the foreign B.O.”5.

  • 6  ‘‘Sioux-focus of ‘Man called Horse’: US Indians Still ‘World Popular’ ’’, Variety, April 22, 1970.

6The journalists and the Hollywood insiders seem to be constantly trying to find a sort of rationale to lessen this unpredictability, first explaining each performance separately (A Man Called Horse was a success because the world audience is interested in Native Americans6), then trying to identify more general trends (Europeans are more averse to violence in films than to sex). In the end, the aim is to be able to devise general guidelines of what works and what doesn’t. Such lists recurrently appeared in the 1990s. For example, action, slapstick comedies, series and sequels work, ethnic content, dialogue-driven comedies, or overly sentimental films do not. The same process is applied to actors, with detailed studies of their “bankability”. For example, Di Caprio would be “bankable” in Japan, whereas Depardieu would not.

7The inflation in the number of articles since the early 1990s can be explained by the discovery of the growing importance of these markets but also through the quick-paced change they underwent. Foreign audiences have been selecting films which had never been successful before:

  • 7  ‘‘Asians Curry Taste for High-Brow Fare’’, Variety, May 5, 1997.

Remember when Asia was characterized as a collection of action-driven markets and audiences were largely unresponsive to upscale films?
Not anymore. Asian movie-goers […] are increasingly flocking to a much broader range of product7.

8Examples of non-action successful films are The English Patient, Before Sunrise, Dolores Claiborne and Evita. The change was however not so much the demise of the action movie as the ascent of more varied film fare. As these changes have put Hollywood’s insiders off balance, observation of the world market has to remain attentive and constant. One must now wonder to what extent the studios actually take into account the experience thus accumulated on the foreign market.

Taking the foreign market into account in production choices

9The growing importance of foreign audiences’ tastes over the past decade can be clearly detected in the change in the green-lighting process. It is especially striking when one looks at the people making the decisions. The actual revolution took place in the late 1990s, when more and more executives in charge of international sectors began to be included in the studios’ decision-making. A very representative exampleis the role of Paul Oneile, head of United International Pictures (Paramount and Universal distribution arm), as described in Variety in 2001:

  • 8  ‘‘The Earth Moves Under their B.O. Feat: Hot Pix, Global Strategy Boost U’s O’seas,’’ Variety, Nov (...)

In the past, Oneile participated sporadically in Universal’s greenlight discussions, providing advice on the overseas market. Now he signs the green-light contract8.

10Another example of the importance of foreign sensitivities in green-lighting decisions is Coca Cola’s choice of David Puttnam as head of Columbia in the late 1980s.

  • 9  Peter Bart, Who Killed Hollywood?, Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999, 19-20.

11Inevitably, a change in decision-makers was accompanied by a change in criteria. Whereas in the late 1960s and 1970s, the production choices were made by ‘‘a mere handful of studio executives’’ wondering if ‘‘the project [stood] a reasonable chance of finding a mainstream audience in the US’’, in 1999, they were taken by a large number of executives, asking: “Will it play in Europe and Asia?”9This huge change in their green-lighting practices will certainly be long-lasting as the majors increasingly define their identities as global and their product as universal, as Warner Bros does:

  • 10  Sue Kroll, Warner Bros President of International Marketing, quoted in ‘‘Warners in Early B.O. Lea (...)

The studio has become much more global in the kind of movies we’re making. There’s deliberate effort to consider the tastes of international audiences upfront10.

  • 11  For example, turning villains from Muslims into Nazis, in 2002, The Sum of All Fears.
  • 12  Aljean Harmetz, ‘‘Hollywood Starts an Invasion of Europe’s Booming Market’’, New York Times, Janua (...)
  • 13  ‘‘Remakes Remodel Foreign Pix: Execs Look Abroad for Fresh Ideas in Ready-Made Packages’’, Variety (...)
  • 14  ‘‘O’seas Options: Remake Wranglers Mine Asia, South America’’, Variety, July 21, 2003.

12The importance of the foreign market is not only present at the general level of the green-lighting decisions, but can also be felt at all the levels of the production process, firstly in the choice of subject. The development process has always been occasionally subjected to script changes made to accommodate a specific audience or to tone down a controversial subject11. However, Hollywood in the 1990s went beyond these occasional script changes, looking from the very start for more international subjects, especially ‘‘subjects that [would] engage European sensibilities12’’, such as the 1990 Henry and June, a picture about Henry Miller shot in Paris. An easier solution is remakes of foreign films. Remakes can be very economical for studios as the rights are generally rather inexpensive, the development phase can be bypassed and the success has been proven in at least one market. The early 2000s wave of remakes differentiated itself from the short-lived 1980s trend by adapting films not only from France and Italy, but also from outside Europe. So, along with remake projects of European films such as With A Friend like Harry and Read My Lips (France) and Insomnia (Norway), Variety listed the Korean My Wife is a Gangster, the Japanese Afterlife, Turn, Dark Water, and The Ring13, as well as the Argentine Son of the Bride14.

  • 15  ‘‘Fewer Stars Lay Claim to Fame’’, Variety, February 23, 1998.
  • 16  ‘‘Warner Hot Over There, Hope Here’’, Variety, December 10, 1986.
  • 17  ‘‘Globalization: Gospel for the’90s?’’, Variety, May 2, 1990.
  • 18  ‘‘Abril, Banderas Lead Voyage to US Screens’’, Variety, October 4, 1993.
  • 19  P. Bart, op.cit., 157.
  • 20  ‘‘Aliens Invade Hollywood!’’, Variety, February 12, 1996.

13A second production strategy is to choose talent according to the foreign market. The first technique is of course to cast Hollywood stars, whose popularity will ensure future success, such as Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson15. Actors who are more popular in the foreign market than in the United States can also be hired, as was the case with Sylvester Stallone in Cobra16. Another technique is to cast foreign actors. Again, producers can cast actors whose popularity in many countries guarantees a built-in audience, such as Depardieu starring in Green Card in 199017. But Hollywood also very often hires less-known foreign actors, such as the Spaniard Antonio Banderas in the early 1990s18. This practice known as “talent poaching” improves both product differentiation and cost control. Thus, action directors in the 1990s would choose to cast Jet Li over Sylvester Stallone19. Of course, directors are lured to Hollywood in the same way and for the same reasons. Again, the phenomenon of hiring foreign talent seems to have experienced such an acceleration in the 1990s that Variety exclaimed in 1996: “Fox […] has become a veritable Ellis Island”20.

  • 21  Geraldine Fabrikant, ‘‘When World Raves, Studios Jump’’, New York Times, March 7, 1990.
  • 22  ‘‘O’seas Censors Prefer Carnality over Carnage’’, Variety, September 27, 1999. For more on this, s (...)
  • 23  ‘‘H’wood Asks: Where’s the Action?’’, Variety, March 24, 1997.

14Finally, the influence of the foreign market can be felt at the editing level either by the practice of differentiated versions (a different ending for Fatal Attraction in Japan21, more explicit versions of Sliver and Eyes Wide Shut outside the USA22), or the extension of audience testing practices to Europe: after the preview of The Saint in front of a European audience, Phillip Noyce decided to alter the final scene which was perceived as too violent23.

  • 24  For a study of this issue in the 1930s, see Ruth Vasey, ‘‘Foreign Parts: Hollywood’s Global Distri (...)

15Though taking into account the foreign market in production choices has always existed in Hollywood24, it seemed to become stronger briefly in the 1960s and has done so especially since the 1990s, with the recent acceleration and systematization of practices present before : observation of the foreign markets, use of foreign sources and foreign talent. So if Hollywood’s desire for expansion leads to more and more foreign influence, are Hollywood films increasingly becoming international and what are the consequences for the national character of those films?

An internationalized film industry

  • 25  This is what is called the ‘‘ethnic mix’’ in Jeremy Tunstall, The Media are American, New York: Co (...)

16Let us first consider the idea that Hollywood films are basically universal, a characteristic which is very often noted both by Hollywood insiders and academics. Journalist Carl Berstein gives such reasons as the scale of the ‘‘big-budget blockbusters’’, the image of ‘‘unlimited freedom, democracy’’, as well as the representativeness of Hollywood due to the American melting pot society25. Academic Scott R. Olson develops the related concept of ‘‘transparency’’:

  • 26  Scott Robert Olson, Hollywood Planet : Global Media and the Competitive Advantage of Narrative Tra (...)

American cultural exports, such as cinema, television, and related merchandise, manifest narrative structures that easily blend into other cultures. Those cultures are able to project their own narratives, values, myths, and meanings into the American iconic media, making those texts resonate with the same meanings they might have if they were indigenous26.

  • 27  As Noam does for television programs. Eli M. Noam, ‘‘Media Americanization, National Culture, and (...)
  • 28  In the same article, L.A.-based British director Michael Apted talked about ‘‘a kind of European-i (...)
  • 29  As Variety does for films such as Captain Corelli or The Others. ‘‘Homegrown Pix Gain in Europe: B (...)

17However, the key to the appearance of universality may simply be Hollywood’s active participation in the international world of cinema. Indeed, going counter to the idea of the Americanization of the world, one can contemplate the idea of a “universalization” of Hollywood films27. Thus, Variety noted in the mid-1990s that “the best place to look for European cultural influences in big-budget movies is in the films produced by the major studios themselves”28. While talking of a true Europeanization or Japanization of Hollywood might be a little hasty, one can talk of a “hybridization”29, which seems to be a resurgence of the 1960s vision of internationalism.

  • 30  Patrice Flichy, Les Industries de l’imaginaire,  Grenoble : PUG, 1980, 198.
  • 31  A ‘‘tentpole’’ is a movie ‘‘expected by a studio to be its biggest grossing blockbuster of the sea (...)
  • 32  Joseph D. Phillips, ‘‘Film Conglomerate Blockbusters: International Appeal and Product Homogenizat (...)
  • 33  Carl Berstein, ‘‘The Leisure Empire”, Time, December 24, 1990.
  • 34  Lynn Hirschberg, ‘‘What is an American Movie Now?’’, The New York Times, November 14, 2004. See al (...)
  • 35  R. S. Olson, op.cit., 165;186.

18The internationalization of Hollywood films does not however sound enchanting to every ear, for two reasons. First, economic internationalization necessarily leads to the standardization of the films produced30. Looking for the highest common denominator leads to a ‘‘homogenization’’ of the films, with the blockbuster − and now tentpole31 − formula32. Secondly, the excessive desire to reach as wide an audience as possible can lead to a sort of cultural anaemia. By conveying representations of America totally divorced from reality, Hollywood movies would then put American culture ‘‘in danger”33. In 2004, studio executive Lynn Hirschberg claimed that contemporary Hollywood films had turned for him into a vision of ‘‘horror’’: simplified stories set in fictitious locations abandoning any reference to American culture34. S. R. Olson concludes that transparent media are ‘‘neither purely foreign nor purely indigenous’’, which leads to the creation of ‘‘new hybrid cultures’’, thus posing “a serious threat to national sovereignty, democracy, and identity”35.

19So, far from the notion of Americanization of the world developed by the cultural imperialism theorists, one can now turn to a notion of globalization of culture which can also have quite dreadful consequences if one contends that Hollywood’s attempt to incarnate a certain universality, partly through supposedly intrinsic qualities and partly through the participation in a more and more internationalized movie world, leads only to the increasing cultural emptiness of its films.

A strategy of diversification

  • 36  Delapierre and Milelli’s concept of ‘‘résilience du national’’ more specifically refers to the per (...)

20However, when one reads through the comments of distributors, or examines the productions of the majors, one gets quite a different picture. On Warner’s 2004 production list, rootless tentpoles like Ocean’s Twelve or Alexander represented only a minority and stood next to films such as L’Amore Ritorna, Le Carton, Cinderella Story or New York Minute. How can one understand these striking differences in production choices? The answer may very well be in Delapierre and Milelli’s concept of the ‘‘resilience of the national’’ in a global context36. This can be felt through two phenomena: the persistence of local tastes and the success of local films.

  • 37  ‘‘Travel Sickness Dogs Some Home-Grown Hits’’, Variety, January 6, 1997.
  • 38  ‘‘H’wood’s New World Order’’, Variety, September 26, 2005.

21While looking for general trends, Hollywood observers have constantly been faced with the persistence of differences between domestic and foreign audiences’ preferences. In the 1990s, they noticed that typically American subjects recurrently failed in the foreign market. Films like Patch Adams (1998) or The Waterboy (1998) were too far from the non-Americans’ cultural references or everyday life. The quasi-systematic failure of American-themed films abroad was defined as “the Americana Syndrome37” in 1997. Besides, the logic is also true the other way round: Americans do not necessarily appreciate films made for the international market, such as epic films (like Kingdom of Heaven)38. In the end, producing a truly international movie, a hit from Peoria to Pretoria appears to be an impossible dream, as one Hollywood expert expained in 1999:

  • 39  ‘‘US Pics Ride O’seas Seesaw: Studios Still Searching for Keys to Int’l Success’’, Variety, Decemb (...)

We are not dealing with one market, but 50 different markets. You can’t find a common denominator in every movie that means it will succeed in each market39.

22Secondly, Hollywood’s domination of the world box office had been endangered twice by the persistent success of local films in recent decades. In the 1960s, French and Italian audiences tended to favour their national cinemas. Again, in the late 1990s, Hollywood’s position in these markets was threatened. Though Hollywood remains dominant, the competition between Hollywood and local films, in Europe and Asia, is still going on.

  • 40  ‘‘Yank Films Weaken O’seas?,’’ Variety, May 23, 1973.
  • 41  As Motion Pictures Association head Jack Valenti is said to have declared in 1995.
  • 42  ‘‘MGM to Up O’seas Filming: Netter Outlines Co.’s New Policy’’, Variety, March 11, 1970.

23So, the “US pix of international appeal”40, were not enough to conquer the foreign market. If the majors wanted to have 100% of the worldwide market, they had to have their share of the local hits41. Hollywood’s response to the growing success of the local films was then to expand economically into overseas production. In the late 1960s, the majors financed “more pictures abroad in specific countries for specific local and regional tastes”42, in France, Great Britain, and mostly in Italy. In the mid-1990s also, the majors quickly decided to get involved in local productions, as a strategy complementary to the production of their Hollywood films:

  • 43  ‘‘Euro Pix Revel in Plextasy: As Overall Auds Grow, Local Fare Upstages Hollywood’’, Variety, Apri (...)

Despite the inroads made by local pix in Europe, Hollywood is still dominant in Europe and is confident it can capture the expanded movie-going audience by consistently coming up with good pics. […]
And just in case it can’t, the majors are homing in on the production of local movies43.

  • 44  ‘‘H’wood’s Euro Fever: Majors Open Production Arms O’seas’’, Variety, May 19, 1997.

24The symptoms of what Variety called “H’wood’s Euro Fever”44 were: co-production deals, local language productions, alliances with local firms. In fact, the majors’ strategy seemed to have very quick results:

  • 45  ‘‘H’wood Battles Local Heroes’’, Variety, July 15, 2002. Among those ‘‘foreign-lingo productions’’ (...)

Indeed, a significant number of the local hits that ate away at the market share of US-made movies in 2001 were actually released (and in some cases financed) by the studios45.

  • 46  J. Augros, ‘‘L’emprise des milieux financiers sur Hollywood : un changement de nature dans la péri (...)
  • 47  As Universal said when moving into local productions, quoted in ‘‘U Locks the Locals,’’ Variety, J (...)

25Of course, while the majors were developing their local productions, they were also producing, specifically for their American audience, low-budget ‘‘bread and butter’’ movies which did not have to answer to any universal imperative and could then target American niche markets46. So, in order to expand economically, the studios had to adopt a “diversification strategy”47 complementing their tentpole productions by involvement in local production, while remaining attuned to their domestic audience.

Conclusion

26So, in answer to the preliminary question ‘‘does the Hollywood majors’ desire for global economic expansion influence their production choices’’, one can very simply affirm that it does. This desire was especially strong at times when the domestic market was failing. Two such periods existed, as we have seen. In the late 1960s and in the late 1990s, Hollywood turned towards the foreign markets for revenues, but also for inspiration, and modified its movies the better to attract the foreign audience. Techniques, such as talent poaching or local production, which were tried in the 1960s, were later quickly taken up again and turned into a systematic strategy in the 1990s. This systematization, added to the context of globalization, leads us to think that the latest wave of international expansion will probably be less short-lived than the first.

  • 48  For more on this, see J. Augros, ‘‘Cinéma : Planète Globalwood’’, op.cit.

27The conditions of Hollywood’s expansion therefore go beyond the traditional concept of exportation, which, with co-productions and local productions, has become an outdated concept. In fact, by producing both international films and local films (American or foreign), Hollywood is able to reach every segment of the audience. The production side of the  majors’ economic expansion strategy is then a strategy of presence, inexorably turning Hollywood into a sort of “Globalwood”48.

  • 49  The idea behind the combination of “globalization” and “localization” was thus ‘‘to transcend nati (...)
  • 50  M. Delapierre, C. Milelli, op.cit., 110.
  • 51  ‘‘Sony’s Global Gaze Pays’’, Variety, April 3, 2000.

28However, the term “Globalwood” does not show how important the local still is. Taking both levels into account, Sony president Akio Morita created in the 1980s the concept of “glocalization”49. On the one hand, the firm was to have an overall plurisectorial global vision, on the other hand decision-making powers were to be transferred to local units50. Sony’s movie production section participated in the ‘‘think global, act local’’ philosophy51, forming an alliance with Canal Plus in 1995, for example. Of course, all the Hollywood majors seem to have adopted Sony’s philosophy as their expansion into foreign production shows. Indeed, for cultural reasons, Sony’s ‘‘glocalization’’ concept really made sense. Because of the force of cultural nationalism, it was in the majors’ best interest not to try and capture the whole market. A recurrent dictum of the Motion Pictures Association is that strong national cinemas create dynamic film markets, which is also good for Hollywood. By complementing their global approach with local involvement, the majors were able to expand economically while avoiding cultural clashes.

  • 52  P. Flichy, Les Industries de l’imaginaire, op.cit., 228. Another example given by Flichy is the ex (...)

29Finally, does the desire to expand economically influence the American character of Hollywood movies? Only to a certain extent and only for a specific kind of film. In fact, with its blockbusters, Hollywood looks for the highest common denominator, not by suppressing any cultural reference, as Olson argues, but rather by adding foreign elements to the initial American elements. In each country, the audience can then identify with a different facet of the movie. At the same time, the production of local films, either in the United States or in foreign countries, enables the studios to meet specifically national expectations. By choosing a diversification strategy Hollywood manages to maintain the equilibrium between ‘‘cultural internationalization and national culture’’52. Casting a last look at Hollywood’s production strategies, one could try to summarize this strategy of expansion both through global and local productions by changing Hollywood’s name not into “Globalwood” but into “Glocalwood”.

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Notes

1  The development of new distribution channels, such as pay-tv or video, though also an element in the greater importance of the foreign market, is not developed in this article.

2  This article concentrates only on the majors’ production strategies, leaving aside distribution strategies, though the two are of course complementary.

3  Examples can be found in the following Variety issues: October 5, 1977, November 3, 1982, September 26, 1984, August 31, 1988, August 5, 1991.

4 Variety, February 5, 1969.

5 Variety, November 14, 1994.

6  ‘‘Sioux-focus of ‘Man called Horse’: US Indians Still ‘World Popular’ ’’, Variety, April 22, 1970.

7  ‘‘Asians Curry Taste for High-Brow Fare’’, Variety, May 5, 1997.

8  ‘‘The Earth Moves Under their B.O. Feat: Hot Pix, Global Strategy Boost U’s O’seas,’’ Variety, November 19, 2001.

9  Peter Bart, Who Killed Hollywood?, Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999, 19-20.

10  Sue Kroll, Warner Bros President of International Marketing, quoted in ‘‘Warners in Early B.O. Lead: ‘Potter’, ‘Ocean’s’ Give Distrib Shot a Second Year’’, Variety, July 22, 2002.

11  For example, turning villains from Muslims into Nazis, in 2002, The Sum of All Fears.

12  Aljean Harmetz, ‘‘Hollywood Starts an Invasion of Europe’s Booming Market’’, New York Times, January 11, 1990.

13  ‘‘Remakes Remodel Foreign Pix: Execs Look Abroad for Fresh Ideas in Ready-Made Packages’’, Variety, October 21, 2002.

14  ‘‘O’seas Options: Remake Wranglers Mine Asia, South America’’, Variety, July 21, 2003.

15  ‘‘Fewer Stars Lay Claim to Fame’’, Variety, February 23, 1998.

16  ‘‘Warner Hot Over There, Hope Here’’, Variety, December 10, 1986.

17  ‘‘Globalization: Gospel for the’90s?’’, Variety, May 2, 1990.

18  ‘‘Abril, Banderas Lead Voyage to US Screens’’, Variety, October 4, 1993.

19  P. Bart, op.cit., 157.

20  ‘‘Aliens Invade Hollywood!’’, Variety, February 12, 1996.

21  Geraldine Fabrikant, ‘‘When World Raves, Studios Jump’’, New York Times, March 7, 1990.

22  ‘‘O’seas Censors Prefer Carnality over Carnage’’, Variety, September 27, 1999. For more on this, see  Joël Augros, L’Argent d’Hollywood, Paris : L’Harmattan, 1996, 180, as well as the concept of ‘‘montage différencié’’ in J. Augros, ‘‘L’emprise des milieux financiers sur Hollywood : un changement de nature dans la période contemporaine ?’’, in Pierre-Jean Benghozi, Christian Delage, Une Histoire économique du cinéma français (1895-1995) : regards croisés franco-américains, Paris : L’Harmattan, 1997, 338.

23  ‘‘H’wood Asks: Where’s the Action?’’, Variety, March 24, 1997.

24  For a study of this issue in the 1930s, see Ruth Vasey, ‘‘Foreign Parts: Hollywood’s Global Distribution and the Representation of Ethnicity’’, American Quarterly44, 1992.

25  This is what is called the ‘‘ethnic mix’’ in Jeremy Tunstall, The Media are American, New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, 86.

26  Scott Robert Olson, Hollywood Planet : Global Media and the Competitive Advantage of Narrative Transparency, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999, 4.

27  As Noam does for television programs. Eli M. Noam, ‘‘Media Americanization, National Culture, and Forces of Integration’’, in Eli M. Noam, Joel C. Millonzi, The International Market in Film and Television Programmes, Norwood: Ablex, 1993, 47.

28  In the same article, L.A.-based British director Michael Apted talked about ‘‘a kind of European-izing of Hollywood’’. ‘‘Eurobucks Back Megapix’’, Variety, March 1994.

29  As Variety does for films such as Captain Corelli or The Others. ‘‘Homegrown Pix Gain in Europe: But Hollywood Fare Still Tops in Box Office Take’’, Variety, December 24, 2001.

30  Patrice Flichy, Les Industries de l’imaginaire,  Grenoble : PUG, 1980, 198.

31  A ‘‘tentpole’’ is a movie ‘‘expected by a studio to be its biggest grossing blockbuster of the season, usually summer. Often the pic is the start of, or an instalment in, a franchise.’’ Definition from <*http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=slanguage_result&slang=tentpole&page=Slanguage&display=tentpole&starting=1>, consulted on February 2, 2006.

32  Joseph D. Phillips, ‘‘Film Conglomerate Blockbusters: International Appeal and Product Homogenization’’, in Gorham A. Kindem, The American Movie Industry, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982, 335.

33  Carl Berstein, ‘‘The Leisure Empire”, Time, December 24, 1990.

34  Lynn Hirschberg, ‘‘What is an American Movie Now?’’, The New York Times, November 14, 2004. See also Sandrine Tolotti, ‘‘Les bonnes raisons d’avoir peur’’, Alternative Internationale, n°26, juillet-août 2005.

35  R. S. Olson, op.cit., 165;186.

36  Delapierre and Milelli’s concept of ‘‘résilience du national’’ more specifically refers to the persisting relevance of the idea of nation-state and political fragmentation in a context of economic globalization. See Michel Delapierre, Christian Milleli, Les Firmes multinationales, Paris : Thémathèque, Géographie économique, 1995, 185.

37  ‘‘Travel Sickness Dogs Some Home-Grown Hits’’, Variety, January 6, 1997.

38  ‘‘H’wood’s New World Order’’, Variety, September 26, 2005.

39  ‘‘US Pics Ride O’seas Seesaw: Studios Still Searching for Keys to Int’l Success’’, Variety, December 13, 1999.

40  ‘‘Yank Films Weaken O’seas?,’’ Variety, May 23, 1973.

41  As Motion Pictures Association head Jack Valenti is said to have declared in 1995.

42  ‘‘MGM to Up O’seas Filming: Netter Outlines Co.’s New Policy’’, Variety, March 11, 1970.

43  ‘‘Euro Pix Revel in Plextasy: As Overall Auds Grow, Local Fare Upstages Hollywood’’, Variety, April 27, 1998.

44  ‘‘H’wood’s Euro Fever: Majors Open Production Arms O’seas’’, Variety, May 19, 1997.

45  ‘‘H’wood Battles Local Heroes’’, Variety, July 15, 2002. Among those ‘‘foreign-lingo productions’’ produced by the Hollywood majors, one can find Crouching Tiger (Sony/China), L’Amore Ritorna (Warner/Italy), Barfuss (Disney/Germany), A Very Long Engagement (Warner Bros/France). For more examples, see J. Augros, ‘‘Cinéma : planète Globalwood’’, Alternative Internationale, n°26, juillet-août 2005, as well as ‘‘H’wood’s Euro Fever : Majors Open Production Arms O’seas’’, Variety, May 19, 1997, and ‘‘Local Pix Pique H’wood Interest’’, Variety, September 13, 2004.

46  J. Augros, ‘‘L’emprise des milieux financiers sur Hollywood : un changement de nature dans la période contemporaine ?’’, in Pierre-Jean Benghozi & Christian Delage (eds), Une Histoire économique du cinéma français (1895-1995) : regards croisés franco-américains, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1997, 337. Looking at the studios’ 2004 production one can easily spot these domestically-oriented films : teenage Cinderella story, crime comedy Criminal, Ben Stiller-starrer Starsky and Hutch, Adam Sandler starrer 50 First Dates, Latino-American comedy Spanglish.

47  As Universal said when moving into local productions, quoted in ‘‘U Locks the Locals,’’ Variety, January 19, 1998.

48  For more on this, see J. Augros, ‘‘Cinéma : Planète Globalwood’’, op.cit.

49  The idea behind the combination of “globalization” and “localization” was thus ‘‘to transcend national differences and to create standardized global markets whilst remaining sensitive to the peculiarities of local markets and differientiated consumer segments’’, as Asu Aksoy and Kevin Robins explain in A. Aksoy, K. Robins, ‘‘Hollywood for the Twenty-First Century: Global Competition for the Critical Mass Markets’’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 16, n°1, 1992, 18.

50  M. Delapierre, C. Milelli, op.cit., 110.

51  ‘‘Sony’s Global Gaze Pays’’, Variety, April 3, 2000.

52  P. Flichy, Les Industries de l’imaginaire, op.cit., 228. Another example given by Flichy is the experience of the records majors which shows that as soon as they began producing local artists, the charges of cultural imperialism against them disappeared. Ibid., 235.

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Nolwenn Mingant, « Hollywood’s Global Outlook: Economic Expansionism and Production Strategy », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. V - n°3 | 2007, 99-110.

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Nolwenn Mingant, « Hollywood’s Global Outlook: Economic Expansionism and Production Strategy », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. V - n°3 | 2007, mis en ligne le 20 octobre 2009, consulté le 19 septembre 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/1615 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/lisa.1615

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Nolwenn Mingant

(Paris X, France)
Nolwenn Mingant is currently preparing a PhD under the supervision of Francis Bordat, at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, where she also teaches. Her field of study is the American motion picture industry and American history in the 20th century.

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