Hollywood versus Bollywood

One of my favorite activities during my leisure time is to go see movies at the theater. I love movies for their visual, emotional, and artistic impact. The main sources of movies I have seen come from Hollywood, California. Hollywood has been the center of the movie world since the “Golden Age of Hollywood” from 1927 to the late 1950’s, which has persisted to this day. However, Hollywood is not only recognized for its glitz and glamour, it’s also recognized for the financial impact it has on the world economy. The Hollywood Film Industry churns out on average 520 movies a year, with growth of 1.8% per year. The domestic box office returns in 2008 reached $9.8 billion, at a growth rate of 1.7% from 2007. The international box office returns of 2008, which accounted for 65% of total revenue, reached an all time high of $28.1 billion, rising 5.2% from 2007. Hollywood is not only the heart of the American film industry; it is the center for home movie and television production as well. When you incorporate home movie and television production with the film industry, this Hollywood giant contributes close to $80 billion to the U.S. economy.

Recently, another player in the world film industry has stepped up to challenge Hollywood for a share of the world cinema market. This film industry, which is located in India, is known as Bollywood. Bollywood is known for its theatrical productions that include music, dancing, and singing. This movie hub releases close to 1000 movies per year, double that of Hollywood. However, Bollywood movies have been plagued by poor funding, stagnant story lines, and complacent producers and directors. Starting in 2006, a revolution has taken place to create better movies, which includes a shift in business ideology from a cash-flow to profit-loss. Directors and producers were solely worried about the money they could get from their next film, whether or not their current project flopped. Once the industry began looking at movies from a profit-loss perspective, the standard of movie making in Bollywood began to rise. With the Indian economy growing greatly, more and more Indian businesses are entering the movie market by funding higher priced films. These budget increases allow film makers to spend more time in pre-production, cast better actors and actresses, pay them accordingly, and to film higher quality movies.

With the increase in Bollywood’s quality over the last few years, Hollywood has taken notice of the new competition. Hollywood recognizes that Bollywood is a growing force, so much so that some movie houses are creating joint ventures in order to gain capital funding and to work on bigger and better project. One of the most notable collaborations to date has been the merging of DreamWorks, run by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, with one of India’s largest entertainment conglomerates, the Reliance ADA Group. With this cooperation between Hollywood and Bollywood, how much growth can the two movie giants sustain? What will be the impact of these international mergers on the U.S. and Indian film industries? Will Bollywood take jobs (especially post-production) away from the Hollywood due to lower costs in India? These are all the questions to consider. For more information please refer to:

· Newsweek

· Wall Street Journal

· Motion Picture Association of America

– Jason Silver

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6 Responses to Hollywood versus Bollywood

  1. Jason, this was a great topic to choose.

    It is staggering to see the financial figures associated with Hollywood films, especially the international numbers – wow, people LOVE movies!

    I remember hearing about the potential Spielberg-Reliance merger, but hadn’t heard the details on it going through. I look forward to the productions to come from the newly formed company.

    My husband has quite an eclectic record collection, including one EP called “Bombay the Hard Way – Guns, Cars and Sitars.” It was created by Dan the Automator and DJ Shadow in 1999. It is a combination of funky musical samples and dialog from Bollywood movies from the 1970s mixed with hip-hop beats. The dramatic rhythms, tones and dialog have always intrigued me, though I admit to never having watched any films of this genre/era. If anyone has any suggestions for classic ’70s Bollywood films complete with leisure suits and mustaches, I would be interested to hear about them…

    As for current times, it is great to hear that Bollywood is stepping up their game. Changing their perspective on how they look at profits and casting should result in some quality productions.

    I saw “Slumdog Millionaire” and loved the plot, the scenery and the music. Though that was an American production, it definitely had a Bollywood feel, especially with the final dance scene. Are there any recent films that anyone can recommend? Maybe we could plan a movie night some time soon to get into the spirit for our upcoming trip…

  2. Joshua Bingham says:

    Just like Jason, I love going to the movies. They allow an escape from the reality that surrounds you every day. He presents a number of interesting points in his post. As India continues to grow and develop, how will its movie industry grow as well? In addition, how will Hollywood react to such growth? The Indian population is massive. When put beside China’s, the two countries present a huge market for any film industry. Bollywood has a lot of opportunity to tap into these huge markets and really do well for itself. Because of its geographical location and better understanding of the different Asian cultures, it could very well reach the same levels of success as Hollywood has. Now, as an American, I of course am biased towards Hollywood. And as I already mentioned, I love movies, especially American movies. The rest of the world loves our movies too. Just look at the numbers Jason provided in his post. Close to 30 billion dollars in 2008 alone. That number has surely grown since then. But Hollywood will not maintain its dominance if it does not address the rising masses overseas. If it wants to stay on top, it must entertain billions of non-Americans. Whichever industry, Hollywood or Bollywood, that can burrow deeply into all of the other cultures in the world and entertain them, will be #1. Hollywood may have the experience and expertise, but Bollywood definitely has the cultural advantage and everyone has to start somewhere.

  3. Amy McDougall says:

    My mom and I have a running joke about Bollywood films. The few times that we have seen films produced by Bollywood, we were not aware of what we would be watching and the spontaneous dance scenes in the middle of the movie were enough to keep us laughing. However, I think that this is a perfect example of the cultural difference between Hollywood and Bollywood. In America, most singing and dance scenes are reserved for musicals and even then it has to been careful to not be too cheesy. Americans do not appreciate singing and dance the way that Indians do, because it is not an assimilated part of our culture. We are often to serious for our own good. I have grown an appreciation for the music and dancing in Bollywood films, but I think that for the movie industry this is a gap that must be bridged in order for further partnerships to occur. One way is not necessarily better than the other, it just is importance to realize the values that both cultures have and it is very interesting how those values are portraying in both Indian and American movies.

    Despite the large success of Bollywood, they are still seriously disadvantaged. American movies have been a form of soft power for the United States spreading American norms and ideals across the world, showing a glimpse of American culture. In order to become even larger, Bollywood must learn how to capture the international market and mesmerize other cultures with the Indian way of life, vis a vis, top selling Bollywood hits.

  4. Austen Diliberto says:

    I don’t think it is an either or here, I think there is enough space for both Hollywood and Bollywood in this world. The American film industry is known to be over the top, dramatic, and at times cliche. But it is constantly evolving and looking to wow audiences worldwide and it does that pretty successfully. Bollywood offers a fresh outlook on movies and only creates more variety for audiences to choose from. Unless we get to a point where there is a movie release every day, viewers should have plenty of time available to watch movies worth watching. This leads me to my second point. Every once in a while the film industry goes into a lull and releases movies that aren’t worth watching. Bollywood is just another part of globalization which creates more competition and hopefully leads to better quality movies all over the world.

    International film production mergers will help bring additional funding to Indian movies, but I see them impeding creativity. Hollywood and Bollywood should be allowed to function separately in order to preserve preexisting cultures and variety. Hopefully, the money can make its way to funding production without having a say in the storyline. Unfortunately our world runs on money and often money is the decider.

  5. Bryan deRegt says:

    I don’t think Bollywood is really competition for Hollywood. I think Bollywood is more an opportunity for Hollywood to expand more into new foreign markets. The partnerships can give access to Hollywood making Bollywood films to air in foreign markets. I don’t think Bollywood has much of a chance of emerging in America and threatening the US market because of American attitude and culture. Foreign films have always been a small market. Americans like things that are “American”. I know this is a stereotype but I know it is true for me and when looking at the top of the box office each week, I know what to expect. The box office leader is going to be a big action movie, a remake of a superhero movie, or a romantic comedy starring an A-list actor and actress. Everyone says Hollywood has run out of new ideas but I think it is more that they have found what people want and will continue to produce these as Americans and international audiences rush to theaters for them.

  6. Aliya Zarate says:

    When growing up back in Russia, I remember the times when my Mom and my grandmother would not stop watching Indian movies on TV every Sunday. They were three hour-long films – with dancing, singing, and exciting love plots.
    Soviet people did not have an opportunity to watch Western movies during the 70s – 80s, but they could watch a great selection of Indian films, the majority of which were close replicas of the Hollywood productions.
    After the iron curtain fell, the western goods and attractions flooded post Soviet Union countries. It became evident to Russians that Indian movies lacked in quality and were under budgeted. The new generation of Russians preferred to spend extra money and buy DVDs with the latest Hollywood movies then watch lower quality Indian films on TV.
    Today, with the Indian economy on the rise, and Bollywood attracting more and more investors, it is noticeable that the standards of movie making in India have improved, improving the quality of the films as well.
    Also, in my opinion, the cooperation of Hollywood and Bollywood will harvest excellent results in the future. It is an apparent fact that the collaboration of two giants is better for the economy that them going against each other in the market that could result in evitable crush. Who knows, next time I go to Russia, I might find my Moscow-raised teenage sister watching Bollywood movies on TV with my mom.

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