Playing to the World's Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV

Playing to the World's Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV

Playing to the World's Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV

Playing to the World's Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV

Synopsis

In this provocative analysis of screen industries in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, Michael Curtin delineates the globalizing pressures and opportunities that since the 1980s have dramatically transformed the terrain of Chinese film and television, including the end of the cold war, the rise of the World Trade Organization, the escalation of democracy movements, and the emergence of an East Asian youth culture. Reaching beyond national frameworks, Curtin examines the prospect of a global Chinese audience that will include more viewers than in the United States and Europe combined. He draws on in-depth interviews with a diverse array of media executives plus a wealth of historical material to argue that this vast and increasingly wealthy market is likely to shake the very foundations of Hollywood's century-long hegemony.

Playing to the World's Biggest Audience profiles the leading Chinese commercial studios and telecasters, and delves into the operations of Western conglomerates extending their reach into Asia. Advancing a dynamic and integrative theory of media capital, this innovative book explains the histories and strategies of screen enterprises that aim to become central players in the Global China market and offers an alternative perspective to recent debates about cultural globalization.

Excerpt

At the turn of the twenty-first century, feature films such as Crouching Tiger, Kung Fu Hustle, and Hero—each of them coproduced with major Hollywood studios—marched out of Asia to capture widespread acclaim from critics, audiences, and industry executives. Taken together they seemed to point to a new phase in Hollywood’s ongoing exploitation of talent, labor, and locations around the globe, simply the latest turn in a strategy that has perpetuated American media dominance in global markets for almost a century and contributed to the homogenization of popular culture under the aegis of Western institutions. These movies seem to represent the expanding ambitions of the world’s largest movie studios as they begin to refashion Chinese narratives for a Westernized global audience. Yet behind these marquee attractions lies a more elaborate endgame as Hollywood moguls reconsider prior assumptions regarding the dynamics of transnational media institutions and reassess the cultural geographies of media consumption. For increasingly they find themselves playing not only to the Westernized global audience but also to the world’s biggest audience: the Chinese audience.

With more than a billion television viewers and a moviegoing public estimated at more than two hundred million, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) figures prominently in such calculations. Just as compelling, however, are the sixty million “overseas Chinese” living in such places as Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vancouver. Their aggregate numbers and relative prosperity make them, in the eyes of media executives, a highly desirable audience, one comparable in scale to the audience in France or Great Britain. Taken together, Chinese audiences around the globe are growing daily in numbers, wealth, and sophistication. If the twentieth century was—as Time magazine founder Henry Luce put it—the American century, then the . . .

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