Thesis statement: Has the American film industry, especially Hollywood, lost its influence as the world’s most important film power or did film production processes change so that the big studios are nowadays forced to change its views and to restructure the old system?
I. The influence of Hollywood decreased in the past years and the United States, especially Los Angeles, are not the center of film business anymore.
A. More movies are produced overseas to reduce production costs.
B. Foreign influence on American film industry − “strangers” take over important roles in front of the camera and behind it.
1. The Australian contributions to the 2002 Academy Awards.
2. Directors from abroad like Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Peter Jackson, and Marc Forster take over important roles in Hollywood.
C. Foreign participation in the production of movies is becoming more and more im- portant.
II. Hollywood is still important, but its power and its position has changed.
A. Although many films are produced abroad, Los Angeles maintains its leading role by being responsible for the majority of blockbusters.
B. The Cooperation between U.S. and foreign production companies, especially Euro- pean and Asian ones, are dominated by the American side.
C. Hollywood stars are still the only ones who are popular nationwide and interna- tional, thus Hollywood can be described as the most important springboard for an international career.
The end of an era - Hollywood’s decreasing influence in the world’s film politics Since Thomas A. Edison’s invention of the motion picture in 1889, movies have always attracted and fascinated the audience around the world. The unique combination of moving pictures and sound had one great advantage in contrast to past cultural events like the vaudeville, the musical or the theater: Its capability of reaching more people.
In the course of time, smart business people began to found studios in order to produce full-length pictures. Up to 1948 the American film industry consisted of a certain number of studios, the so called “Big Five”- Paramount, Twentieth Century-Fox, Warner Bros., RKO, and MGM- and the “Little Three”- Columbia, Universal, and United Artists (Phillips 327). Over decades these studios managed to produce the most influential and most profitable mov- ies worldwide.
Things changed, however, and the era of the studio-production drew to a close as pro- duction of a feature film outside, meaning in the real world, became much cheaper than pro- ducing the picture in expensive stagesets, which had often been special manufactured and thus could only be used once. Changes were now unavoidable. After directors like Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Sidney Lumet, Don Siegel, and others influenced the art of motion picture in the first half of the century, others took over and led Hollywood to new fame and wealth. At the end of the sixties a new generation of young American filmmakers developed a more personal cinema, which was a combination of visions and marketing. Steven Spiel- berg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola were the most popular advo- cates of the New Hollywood (Monaco 366). Over twenty years they and others were respon- sible for highly respected and profitable movies. Nowadays, however, it seems that Holly- wood will has to deal with a lot of factors, that influence film industry in the future. Despite the changing structures in international film politics, however, the new players and partners and the new defined production processes, Hollywood is still strong.
In the past years, the situation in the world’s film politics has turned out to be a new one. It could be recognized that the taste of movie-goers has changed tremendously, which means that the film industry worldwide, especially the one in Hollywood, had to think of new ways to draw people into the cinemas. Hollywood has long relied on typical genre movies. What the Western was between the 1930s and 1960s became the action movie like for exam- ple "Conan - The Barbarian,” "Rambo,” and "Die Hard.” All those pictures were very suc- cessful in the 1980s, but today this type of movie is not popular anymore, because Arnold Schwarzeneggger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis, the stars of these films, personified a special kind of hero, which does not fit in our time. In the 1990s, however, the audience sympathized with heroes who were average people like the movie-goers themselves and whose appearances were much more realistic and authentic.
Besides, the number of people who dislike the typical Hollywood popcorn-movie is increasing. Especially in the last years the small and independent art cinema of Europe, Asia, and India found new friends and advocates. “Italian for Beginners,” “Elling,” or “Monsoon Wedding” are popular examples (Titel-Magazin).
The question which is discussed nowadays is whether Hollywood lost its magic, its power and its influential position in the world film industry. Is the American film community at the end of a development or is it just changing?
First of all, one can claim that the position of Hollywood, the “Mecca of Film,” is weaker than it was ten or twenty years ago. This development is not surprising and can be explained with the increasing movie production in other countries of the world. In recent years especially Europe, but also Australia, and Asia proved to be cheaper on movie produc- tion than the United States. As a consequence, many American movies were and are pro- duced in foreign countries. The production of the “The Lord of the Rings”-trilogy, for in- stance, illustrates the actuality of this debate. There were two reasons for shooting the movie in New Zealand: first, the production company New Line Cinema, which is a part of the AOL Time Warner empire, thought that the landscape of the island would best fit to what J.R.R. Tolkien had described as Middle Earth, and second, production costs were cheaper there. In fact, the picture brought in $270 million overseas, more than half of its production costs (Foroohar 59), and about $850 million worldwide (boxofficereport). Moreover, an increase in the production of foreign movies can be recognized. Accord-ing to movie sources like “Titel-Magazin,” and “IMDb” smaller countries with weaker film industries, like Norway, Germany, and Spain, for example, nowadays have more courage and take more risks in choosing film projects and their visualization. “Elling,” a Norwegian pic-ture about two outsiders who find their way back into society, was celebrated of both audi-ence and critics, as a warmly told story with a positive approach to life. Spain’s Alejandro Amenábar (“The Others”) and Pedro Almodóvar (“All about my mother”), and Germany’s Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run”; “Heaven”) recently ensured the European contribution to the international movie market.
Today, many American movies are influenced or inspired by foreign art − films, pic- tures, and literature. Steven Spielberg was inspired by Japanese comics to do “A.I.” Cameron Crowe recently made a remake of Alejandro Amenábar’s “Obre los Ojos” (1997) named “Vanilla Sky”. Adriane Lyne copied Claude Chabrol’s “Unfaithful Woman” (1969), now called “Unfaithful” starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane (IMDb). Seemingly, American filmmakers and producers love to remake works by European directors because they are dif- ferent in storytelling from American movies and bring new styles to the pictures.