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Sunday, April 14, 2013

GLOBAL BOX OFFICE: continued US dominance?

Figures for the following are taken from Phil Hoad's article, Hollywood's hold over global office - 63% and falling (2.4.13), itself based on this MPAA annual report. Figures are for the full year 2012.
Worldwide box office: $34.7bn
US $10.8bn
non-US global box office = 69% of total (ie, US = a third of all global box office)
Asia-Pacific box office jumped 15% to $10.4bn, with China overtaking Japan as world's 2nd-biggest market (Hoad argues that it won't maintain the 36% rise every year + so rejects the argument that it will overtake the US by 2020)
'One thing beyond dispute is that Asia-Pacific is poised to overtake the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), which shrank slightly last year to $10.7bn, very soon.'
'The third region used by the MPAA for global box-office purposes – Latin America – logged a small rise, from $2.6bn to $2.8bn.'

Crucially, note that these figures are for tickets in those regions - US-produced films continue to dominate worldwide, hoovering up nearly 2-thirds of global box office (60-70%) - see below for more details. That actually means a steady fall since Avatar set the recent high in 2010, although 4 of the big 6 made over $2bn from non-US box office in 2012!

A lot of figures, the point is that these provide useful, specific evidence of the context of US dominance in which UK companies must operate.
The MPAA report is still, sadly, low on detail on overseas activity, despite abroad being where Hollywood's compass points these days. It certainly doesn't broach the touchy question – loaded with the old cultural-imperialism chestnut – of exactly what level of dominance Hollywood enjoys worldwide. So, using Metacritic's figures for respective studios' takings in 2012, I've done some calculations of my own. If worldwide box office was $34.7bn, and the six majors' combined box office was $21.773bn, that means American cinema enjoyed a minimum 62.7% share of the globe (this doesn't take into account films by smaller producers, including Lions Gate, which is virtually a proper studio now). Applying the same methods for the previous three years, the percentage comes out as: 2009, 63.9%; 2010, 67.4%; 2011, 66.9%; 2012, 62.7%.
Does this four-year snapshot mean anything? It certainly reinforces that the US remains the 900lb gorilla of world cinema – gripping what, if complete stats were available, would probably be closer to 70+% of all box-office receipts. But Kim Jong-un and devotees of cultural diversity can also comfort themselves with the fact that this share seems to be dropping – from a 2010 peak when Avatar skewed the spread – at a time when overseas markets are expanding rapidly and the studios are straining to devise "global content". And the drop was a fairly dramatic one in 2012, despite a fair performance across the board from the big six (four made it over the $2bn mark in international markets), and a year that contained a No 3 entry for Disney, Avengers Assemble, on the all-time list. So this shows why the MPAA flapped so hard about the Chinese government's anti-competitive practices – forcing US blockbusters to run off against each other on the same weekend, and blackout periods for foreign releases. As new cinema markets become larger and more sophisticated Hollywood will have to fight harder to retain the status quo.

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