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Conor Sen and Megan McArdle

Saving Hollywood From the Chinese Box Office

Two fans discuss how American movies can avoid the bland death of serving a global audience.
"Transformers" translates. "Brokeback Mountain" was never going to play in Sichuan.

"Transformers" translates. "Brokeback Mountain" was never going to play in Sichuan.

Photographer: VCG, via Getty Images

Why do so many movies stink? Two movie-loving Bloomberg View columnists have some theories, and some ideas about what to do about it.

Conor Sen: As a fan of American film, I'm worried about where the industry is going. DVD sales have been declining for years, and streaming revenue looks unlikely to ever replace them. The rise of moviegoers in China has created an incentive for Hollywood to make movies that appeal to Chinese audiences as well as Western ones. There are so many entertainment options now, and marketing costs have become so astronomical, that Hollywood has decided to play it safe and focus on large, well-established franchises for movies and sequels. Put all this together and you get a lot of movies like the latest Transformers installment, which dominated the Chinese box office but barely registered in the U.S.