In all industries you have your rivals, your most fierce competition who are always looking to get the advantage and either sell more products than you or become more of a household name. Sports teams have them, companies have them and even whole industries have them if you take a look at one of the most competitive in the world – cinema.
I’m not talking about specific films competing with each other because, at least in theory, no two films are alike; but the biggest film producers in the world are both vying for the number one spot in terms of becoming the global superpower. Hollywood and its Indian counterpart, Bollywood, have been growing up together a bit like siblings and, as we all know, there is nearly always sibling rivalry with the two desperate for the attention and to be the favorite. These two are no different.
The home of the American entertainment industry for more than 100 years having seen its first movie making companies form in the area in and around 1900. Having got wind of the great work being done in Los Angeles and seen some of the films with their own eyes, the Indian film making industry began to form in Bombay (now Mumbai) around 1910 with the first movie released in 1913. From that point on the two were in direct competition for the title of leader in the industry and today – while not at all a serious rivalry – the two are still competing.
In an attempt to solve the century-old battle for supremacy, it made sense to try and have a mini-competition between the two film making superpowers:
Round 1: Global Stars
Both have produced some top class actors and actresses, there is no doubt about that. However, if you were to talk about the biggest names in Hollywood and Bollywood anywhere in the world, the chances are that the public would reel off a list of LA-based stars rather than their Mumbai counterparts. The likes of Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp are famous the world over for their performances in a variety of films. In comparison the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone are undoubtedly stars in India, but have failed to make much of an impression overseas.
Winner: Hollywood. 1-0
Round 2: Films Produced Annually
While admittedly it’s all about quality over quantity, giving the people more of what they want is very important to build a successful industry. In business there are several mottos, one of which is “give the people what they want”, and with Bollywood movies the demand is certainly there. With millions of people waiting anxiously for the next big release – the most recent blockbuster being Bang Bang – the Indian industry is now churning out around 1,000 films each year which is estimated at more than double that of Hollywood. Considering they are roughly the same age, you could say that Hollywood is missing a trick here, however, the argument could also exist that they aren’t producing enough to satisfy the audience. One thing is for certain – the Indian public can’t get enough.
Winner: Bollywood. 1-1
Round 3: Revenue
We’ve already established that Bollywood produces more than twice the number of films than Hollywood, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to successes at the box office, with downloads and online streams and in terms of the sheer amount of money brought in. It’s been estimated that the Indian film industry produces revenues of around $4.2 billion with many putting this down to the fact that, as one analyst put it “80% of the films produced are duds.” In comparison, the 2002 Hollywood release Spider-Man brought in £800 million in revenue on its own. This proves that Bollywood still has a long way to go to catch up with its big brother across the pond, and that it needs to spend more time focussing on quality over quantity. Don’t get me wrong, the Bollywood industry is doing amazingly well with huge viewing figures and ticket sales across India and more and more streaming films online around the world on a daily basis. It’s just still not reached the high of the Hollywood hills.
Final Score – Hollywood 2 Bollywood 1