American Hegemony: Movie Edition

Just how powerful is the United States?  This is a question that on the surface seems pretty easy to answer – very powerful!  All one needs to look at is America’s geographic size, population, GDP, and military resources and you could easily conclude that the United States is virtually unrivaled in its power resources.  However, you could also look at China on those same measures and see that it beats the U.S. on (at least some aspects) on all of those measures (with important caveats).  But more importantly these are all hard power measures and there are serious limits as to what states can accomplish with hard power alone unless that state has some soft power resources as well.  So when one is asking the question “just how powerful is the United States?”  you have to include various soft power measures as well to get a complete picture.  The difficulty is that soft power is a hard concept to measure.  There have been some attempts at creating soft power scales on which to compare countries and these have a fair amount of utility.  One  sort of off-the-wall measure that I like is worldwide movie box office numbers.  The list below comes from Box Office Mojo  All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses

The top grossing films worldwide are all Hollywood productions (or co-productions for example New Zealand with Lord of the Rings, or the U.K. with Harry Potter).  It’s also not just the top 20 highest grossing films but I believe the top 400 all have some Hollywood backing.  According to this Daily Mail article Paddington is the highest grossing worldwide non-Hollywood movie and according to Box Office Mojo it clocks in at #447 in world wide grosses.  However since it is also an English speaking movie it fits with the larger point which is that American produced (and English speaking movies) have complete dominance over the worldwide movie market.  You might say that American movies are hegemonic . . .and also James Cameron just prints money, man



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