'Crouching Tigers': Emerging Challenges to U.S. Entertainment Supremacy in The Movie Business


  • Jonathan Taplin Annenberg School For Communication, University of Southern California, U.S.




movie industry, global media industry, economics of media, entertainment


This paper analyzes the dynamic change that globalization is bringing to the international knowledge society and the businesses related to this economic sector. Over the past twenty years the American economy has made its final transition from the industrial age to the information age, and if one looks at the export sector it shows that large media, software and pharmaceutical firms dominate the American export economy. While conventional wisdom assumes that the economies of scale that benefit classic manufacturers will also enhance the competitive position of firms that deal in the more intangible outputs of ideas, creativity and soft power, the author of this article argues that there are several countervailing forces that might slow the dominance of American firms in the world knowledge economy. The first is the rise of potent knowledge economies in Asia, Russia and Europe. The second relates to the devolutionary force of Internet Protocol technologies that provide new avenues of distribution for knowledge exports. Focusing on the Movie Business, the author examines to what extent these forces slow one of the major areas of American export success at a time of great global economic imbalances and increasing U.S. internal and external deficits, and also shows why these countervailing factors must be a source of great concern to policy makers. ‘Crouching Tigers’: Desafios emergentes à supremacia dos EUA no negócio cinematográfico da indústria do entretenimento Este artigo analisa a dinâmica das transformações que a globalização induz na sociedade e economia mundial do conhecimento e nos negócios a ela associados. Durante os últimos vinte anos, a economia norte-americana completou a transição da era industrial para a era da informação, tendência que pode ser observada através dos indicadores económicos das exportações das empresas norte-americanas, entre as quais se destacam as áreas dos media, software e farmacêutica. Enquanto a sabedoria convencional defende a ideia que as economias de escala que beneficiaram as indústrias convencionais também irão reforçar a posição competitiva das empresas nos novos sectores que produzem bens intangíveis como ‘criatividade’, ‘ideias’, e ‘soft power’; o autor do presente artigo argumenta que existem vários factores (‘countervailing forces’) que contribuem para a diminuição da supremacia das empresas norte-americanas no contexto da economia mundial do conhecimento. O primeiro factor é o crescimento de potentes economias do conhecimento na Ásia. O segundo relaciona-se com a ‘devolutionary force’ das tecnologias Internet Protocol, as quais abrem novas vias de distribuição para as exportações da indústria do conhecimento. Focalizando a sua análise na indústria cinematográfica norte-americana, o autor examina os impactos destes factores na desaceleração de uma das áreas de exportação mais importantes nos EUA, numa época de fortes desequilíbrios e crescentes défices internos e externos na economia dos EUA, e sustenta que esses factores devem constituir uma séria fonte de preocupação para os responsáveis pelas políticas do sector.

Author Biography

Jonathan Taplin, Annenberg School For Communication, University of Southern California, U.S.

Jonathan Taplin's areas of specialization are in International Communication Management and the field of digital media entertainment. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival seven times. In 1984 Taplin acted as the investment advisor to the Bass Brothers in their successful attempt to save Walt Disney Studios from a corporate raid. This experience brought him to Merrill Lynch, where he served as vice president of media mergers and acquisitions. In this role, he helped re-engineer the media landscape on transactions such as the leveraged buyout of Viacom. Taplin was a founder of Intertainer and has served as its Chairman and CEO since June 1996. Intertainer was the pioneer video-on-demand company for both cable and broadband Internet markets. Taplin holds two patents for video on demand technologies. Taplin was appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2006 to the California Broadband Taskforce. Taplin graduated from Princeton University. He is a member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and sits on the advisory board of the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland. To find out more about Jonathan Taplin, visit http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~jtaplin/.




How to Cite

Taplin, J. (2007). ’Crouching Tigers’: Emerging Challenges to U.S. Entertainment Supremacy in The Movie Business. Observatorio (OBS*), 1(2). https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS12200771