“Soft power” and shifting patterns of influence in global film culture

Authored by: Paul Cooke

The Routledge Companion to World Cinema

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138918801
eBook ISBN: 9781315688251
Adobe ISBN:


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Writing in the Financial Times in 2013, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson argued that the BRICS group of emerging nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) had now reached a point in their development where they had effectively “‘flipped’ the film market, focusing US filmmakers and distributors on international opportunities and creating a bigger US market for foreign films” (Edgecliffe-Johnson 2013). The main focus for Edgecliffe-Johnson, as well as several other commentators at the time, was in actual fact the rapid growth of the Chinese market, which in 2012 became the second largest film market after the USA, and which some commentators predicted it would overtake as soon as 2018 (Plowright 2015). For all Edgecliffe-Johnson’s suggestion that this development might open up the world’s cinema to more international US co-productions that could increase Hollywood’s appetite for the production of non-English-language films for international markets, the main opportunity in the sights of the Hollywood majors at the time was, without doubt, the chance to sell their mainstream, English-language, product into the Chinese market, a market that, moreover, seemed immune to the overall slowdown in the Chinese economy. This offered proof—it was needed—as Peter Shiao observes, CEO of Orb Media Group and Chair of the annual US-China Film Summit, that “if history is any indicator when there is stress in the social fabric of society people rely on movies even more” (quoted in Carroll and Phillips 2015).

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