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After Hollywood: the rise of the international box office

by Phil Hoad.

In the first of a new series analysing the cinematic scene around the globe, Phil Hoad looks back to 2004, the year that Hollywood’s supremacy faltered.

To begin, a salute: try and name a new column about the era beyond Hollywood, and you end up including “Hollywood” in the title anyway. The Dream Factory has towered over cinema for so long – seven decades of cultural dominance – it’s easy to assume it always will. But its jazzy reign over the mainstream has become strained, and the frontiers of commercial film-making are unrolling beyond Los Angeles; 2004 was the year when the future came into focus, Blu-Ray sharp.

There never used to be such a thing as “international box office”: there was just the US domestic market, and everywhere else; or Hollywood, and that dismissive catch-all, “world cinema”. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the organisation that promotes the studios’ interests home and abroad, never used to mention international box office in its annual report.

What happened in 2004 swatted away that complacency: since the late 90s, US domestic box office and international had been running virtually neck-and-neck (see pages 4-5 in this report), somewhere around $9-10bn each. In 2004, international box office exploded by an incredible 44%, to $15.7bn, leaving the US standing. It has continued on its strong upwards trajectory since, climbing to $21.2bn in 2010, with growth in the US (2010: $10.6bn) holding up about as well as Bruce Willis’s hairline.

Read the rest of this article from Guardian.

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