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We all know the Hollywood movie industry is big and not just in English speaking countries. With the use of multilingual subtitling and dubbing, American movies are breaking down language barriers and are household names across the globe.

Do you enjoy your movie facts? Well, did you know that in 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction grossed over $1 billion internationally making it the highest grossing movie last year!

While the majority of us know the Hollywood sign, and yes there’s no doubt it’s a prosperous industry, but did you know that even Hollywood has their rivals worth noting? And yet so few English speakers are aware of it or have even watched a film from these foreign film industries listed below.


The Indian movie industry is also popular, with Bollywood being the most well known, the name being combined from ‘Bombay’ and ‘Hollywood.’ It’s huge and in 2011, it generated revenues of $3 billion and by 2016, the revenue is expected to reach $4.5 billion. It produces approximately over 800  films a year which is more than double the number of feature films produced in the United States. Hence why Bollywood is the largest movie industry in regards to the amount of movies produced.

Why are Bollywood films so popular?

Indian cinema tends to be popular due to the upbeat and optimistic nature of the plots and happy endings. Themes tend to revolve around love, family and community. Many people are attracted to it with its theatrical spectacle of dance and music which isn’t done that often in Western cinema in comparison to Bollywood. Below is ‘PK,’ the highest grossing Indian movie of 2014.


The world’s third largest movie industry is China, both in terms of the number of films produced and box office takings. Chinese box office revenue in 2014 was $4.9 billion which is impressive despite state censorship restricting what can be shown in movie theatres. However much of China’s media success is due to the directing and acting talent from Hong Kong and Taiwan where a lot of their Western loved, internationally renowned action movies were produced such ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’ Due to the increasing popularity of these movies, in 2015 the Hong Kong government announced a budget to aid the Film Development Fund to stimulate the industry even more. Hollywood is even interested in acquiring rights to remake many Hong Kong films. A popular remake is the 2006 movie The Departed’ which was inspired from the Hong King original ‘Internal Affairs’.

Picture of an audience in a cinema watching a movie

What about Britain?

Despite the success of these international industries, surprisingly they are not that popular among English speakers. Foreign language films and television dramas still only occupy a small, niche market. In 2013, foreign films generated only 2% of total box office revenue. If we ignore American movies, Britain still has Europe’s lowest market share for foreign-language films. In an EU survey, only 5% said they had seen ‘many’ foreign language films which is significantly lower than other European countries.

While speaking of China and India, many Brits are unaware and are unable to name a movie from these particular countries. Although a minority are translated through subtitling and dubbing, not enough effort has been done to ensure that more movies are made available to non native speakers.

It could be argued that there are more English speakers out there than we think that are interested in international media, but may not have the right access to them. Film is an excellent way for us to take a peek in to different cultures and communities, to see how ‘the other half live.’ For many, the only way they can get access to foreign multimedia, is through subtitles known as ‘fansubs‘ performed by non-professionals. This results in poor quality translation which in turn affects the quality and perception the viewers have of foreign film industries.

What can be done?

Good quality subtitling and dubbing are offered at an inexpensive price by some agencies. If movie makers had the foresight of seeing the potential of interest their products garner across the globe by offering viewers translated versions, then who knows how big these film industries can get.