You’d practically have to live under a rock not to have been influenced in some way by Hollywood movies. The same can’t be said for Bollywood, the centerpiece of the Indian film industry. The reason for this of course is that Bollywood or other Indian movies don’t have the same export value that Hollywood movies do. After all, how many people have heard of the fairly recent Indian blockbuster “Baahubali: The Beginning”, compared to how many folks have seen the Batman Trilogy? Nonetheless, Bollywood’s fame and fortunes and viewing statistics is impressive to say the least. In fact, in terms of viewers and the number of films made, it’s certainly a match for Hollywood. Other countries also have big film industries, including China, the UK, Japan, France and South Korea. But today we are going to focus on the two aforementioned silver screen giants, in this episode of The Infographics Show, Hollywood vs. Bollywood.
Before we look at the history of these two movie industries, we should give some credit to Hollywood and the long list of film industries nicknamed after it. You’ve got Tollywood, the Bengali film industry, Nollywood in Nigeria, Trollywood in Sweden and Chinawood in… you can guess where. Hollywood has been called the “film factory of the world,” but long before it was given that epithet, it was a quiet part of LA where even quieter movies were made. That’s because the first movies made there were silent movies. It wasn’t until 1927 and the release of the full-feature “The Jazz Singer” that sound in movies became a thing. These movies at the time were called “talkies”. Prior to talkies, the first big studios were Centaur films and Nestor Films. These were the first American independent film studios, with the latter being the first in Hollywood.
The first ever feature film made in Hollywood was called ‘The Squaw Man’, released in 1914. According to one Hollywood historian, movie-makers on the East coast heard about these studios in sunny-LA and followed the trail. This was partly because inventor Thomas Edison, who owned thousands of technology patents – many related to the film-making process – was charging hefty fees to East coast film-makers. As one writer puts it, “In short, if you wanted to be in the movie business, you did so at the pleasure of Thomas Edison.” Partly thanks to shrewd Edison, the roaring 20s was a Hollywood heyday, putting the “little, friendly village” of Hollywood on the world map.
What most people don’t realize is that Bollywood history follows a similar timeline to that of Hollywood. The name Bollywood is sometimes believed to mean the entire Indian film industry, when in fact we are usually referring to the Hindi language part of the Indian film industry. It was named Bollywood after the city of Bombay, now called Mumbai, but wasn’t actually called Bollywood until the 1970s. Movies are made in many languages throughout India, though Hindi-language films are certainly the most popular. In 2014, 1,969 films were produced in India, and only 252 of them were Bollywood films.
The first Bollywood movie was called “Raja Harishchandra”, which was released in 1913. There wasn’t the same kind of money or technology in Bombay as there was in Hollywood in the early days of movie-making, and so it wasn’t until 1931 that Bollywood had its own “talkie”. That was called Alam Ara, a kind of Romeo and Juliet type of story which centers on the love of a Prince and a gypsy girl. Apparently it was so popular police had to control the huge crowds that went to see it. The period from the 40s to the 60s was called the Golden Age of Hindi cinema, during which time Hindi films were sometimes nominated as best foreign language films.
The Golden Age of Hollywood is sometimes said to be the period of the 20s until the 40s, and one could argue that this golden age is only just starting to falter as Hollywood finds stiff competition from alternative producers of film and television. During the mid-40s, Hollywood was making an impressive number of films, about 400 a year. It’s said during this time 90 million Americans watched Hollywood films weekly, which is impressive as in 1945 the population of the USA was only 139.9 million. The number of movies released from Hollywood studios in 2016 was 729 according to Box Office Mojo, although it’s thought only about 200-250 had a wide release. The gross for Hollywood movies in 2016 was $11.37 billion, which was down on a fairly successful 2015 if you adjust the figure for inflation. From the mid-80s until the mid-90s the number of releases was around 400-550. From 1998 – 2007 Hollywood tickets sales looked in good shape, with 2002 being the best year with 1.576 billion tickets sold. The highest grossing film that year was Spiderman.
Forbes reported that Bollywood was about to swell in terms of profits in 2017: from 2016’s $2.32 billion gross to an estimated 2.89 billion for 2017. This means in recent times, in terms of gross profits, Bollywood is about 5 times smaller than Hollywood.
Bollywood is no match for Hollywood in terms of money, but it beats its western counterpart in other areas. In 2016 Bollywood ticket sales were 2.2 billion, which was the most movie tickets sold in the world after second place China. We should also add that sometimes the stats seem to contain other Indian films that might not strictly be Bollywood films. 2016 was a so-so year for Hollywood, with the total tickets sold stagnant at 1.31 billion. The LA Times in 2017 blamed this on Hollywood creating poorly-made movies, people staying home more to see movies and TV series, and also the fact the Chinese market did much worse than expected.
The highest grossing Hollywood movie ever, if you adjust US ticket sales at the rate of inflation, is Gone with the Wind at $1.68 billion. Globally that number is said to be around 3.3 billion dollars. Second would be the first ever Stars Wars movie at 1.48 billion in US ticket sales (2.8 billion globally), although some sources put Avatar above it in inflation-adjusted gross profits at 3 billion. The Sound of Music is said to have earned 2.36 billion globally with adjusted inflation, and Titanic 2.51 billion dollars. Gone with the Wind sold 225.7 million tickets, the most tickets sold for any American movie.
Bollywood, again, is not even close when it comes to money earned by individual movies. The highest grossing ever Bollywood movie was the 2016 hit “Dangal”, grossing 310 million dollars and doing very well overseas, especially in China. It became the 5th highest grossing non-English language film and the only Indian film to go past the 100 million mark at the time. China’s “The Mermaid” is the highest grossing non-English language film at $553 million. Bollywood would break the 100 million mark again in 2017 with the sequel to the hit mentioned in the intro, “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”, which grossed 270 million dollars. The film was actually made in the Telugu and Tamil languages, and later dubbed into Hindi. Even though it’s often listed as a Bollywood movie, it’s actually a southern India movie and not a Bollywood but a Tollywood movie. Its success even prompted southern Indians to take to social media and troll Bollywood fans. The Hindi version can claim that it sold much better than the original version, though. The film has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was received well by the English language media.
In Bollywood three of the highest paid actors and possibly the biggest celebrities are easy to remember as they are all called Khan. Known as the three Khans, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan, they are some of the highest paid actors in India, though they are not related. Shah Rukh is the highest paid, earning an estimated 33 million dollars a year on average according to Forbes. This would make him the 10th highest paid actor in the world. Aamir Khan made over 40 million for his part in Dangal, while Salman earns around 28 million dollars a year. One other Indian actor, Akshay Kumar, is thought to earn in the region of 31.5 million dollars a year. The highest paid female Indian actress is Deepika Padukone. Her earnings are now at around 10 million dollars.
In Hollywood, the money is slightly better, with Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson being the highest paid actor according to Forbes, with a yearly paycheck of 64.5 million dollars. Next is Jackie Chan with 61 million a year and third Matt Damon with 55 million a year. The highest paid Hollywood actress is Jennifer Lawrence, earning 46 million a year.
With that, we come to the end of the show, and hope you’ve enjoyed this comparison. What do you think about these two old industries, and what the future holds for them? Let us know in the comments!