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East Asian films in the European market: the roles of cultural distance and cultural specificity

Xiaoyan Wang (Business School, Shandong University at Weihai, Weihai, China) (City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)
Haibo Raymond Pan (Department of Marketing, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)
Nibing Zhu (Department of Marketing, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)
Shaohan Cai (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 9 July 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021

1243

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigates the impact of cultural distance on foreign box office performance of East Asian cinematic production in European markets. Predicated on two dimensions of a film's cultural specificity, namely content- and aesthetics-based components, this research advances current knowledge on the moderating effects of cultural specificity.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors compile a data set of 515 East Asian films released in European countries during the 2010–2018 period. Data are analyzed by hierarchical linear modeling.

Findings

Results show that cultural distance plays a negative role in affecting foreign box office performance and that aesthetics specificity of films weakens such a relationship, while content specificity of films can further strengthen the relationship.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that cultural specificity is a crucial element and a relevant marketing tool in the cross-country film trade. Film producers and distributors need to consider both distribution strategy and intercultural context in order to align effectively with differing cultural distance and specificity.

Originality/value

This study proposes a new categorization framework of cultural specificity and demonstrates the moderating roles of content and aesthetics specificity on the relationship between cultural distance and films' foreign box office performance. It offers implications for both theory and practice in global film marketing and trade.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (project 71672164) and from the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong SAR (CityU 11502218) for financial support.

Citation

Wang, X., Pan, H.R., Zhu, N. and Cai, S. (2021), "East Asian films in the European market: the roles of cultural distance and cultural specificity", International Marketing Review, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 717-735. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-01-2019-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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