Creating a non-superficial global cinema will require finally figuring out truly universal values of a planetary culture. These values derive from human biology.
Capturing and holding audiences from all the continents isn't easy. Many have tried.
Modern mass entertainment often serves as a deeper and more important global language than English. That is because present day Hollywood industry inadvertently created a process that increasingly touches upon basic physiological human needs and aspirations. Profit driven use of visuals, characters, and themes (that were scientifically researched to be as marketable and appealing to widest possible multi-ethnic audience) is steadily pushing towards a universal formula. Although we're still at a point where the appealing "supranational" characteristics of mainstream Hollywood involve the usual (explosions, special effects, sex appeal, mental escape through hyperindividualistic protagonists, etc), we will begin to see deeper basic cinematic themes emerge that cut across all cultures in the near future. The basic reasons will be:
1) Same corporate profit motive that gave us the rise of neuromarketing will push for figuring out physiological substrata that makes simultaneous global release movies more emotionally appealing. Digital piracy will make physical movie spaces ever more important for revenue generation. Conversion of movie theaters into expensive 3D/concert/theater type spectacles will need research to be successful. You WILL be satisfied with the global release whether you're in Nigeria, Japan, Ecuador, Texas, etc.
2) Emerging Internet culture finding its way to the mainstream as globe trotting generation Y takes charge of the industry.
3) Dawning realization by Western elites that globalization has stalled. Their scramble to rethink and proactively improve globalization and its integrative forces. Goal of preventing a major and rapid slide into mercantilist (potentially even hostile!) continental economic blocks will see elite efforts to create stronger intercontinental "glue". Efforts towards discovery of media/art/Internet driven truly global culture should be part of the effort. Most states currently subsidize their movie industries behind the scenes as national propaganda PR moves. This practice can be turned on its head if applied towards supranational themes and purposes.
The spread of this Hollywood lingua franca is a microcosm of globalization itself. When analyzing integrative processes of globalization, special attention should be given to the film industry in particular.
Until relatively recently, Hollywood released its mega movies domestically first and abroad only months later. Then, to combat immediate digital piracy from places like China it became a more common practice to have simultaneous global openings for very big budget titles. The preparation and logistical coordination of this represented stage three in the emergence of a truly globalized film industry.
Lets briefly go through the stages:
1) 1950s-1980s: Mass cultural exports of the post-war period. Influx of Hollywood products into occupied territories and satellite states. Increasing cooperation between West European studios/agencies and Hollywood resulting in an international entertainment business sphere. Some partial work done on "universal" values within the ideological framing context of the cold war. Both Western and Soviet intelligence have a heavy role in informational shaping of entertainment to influence perceptions of the present world and prime expectations of how the world's future will develop (the dystopian-utopian spectrum of how the 21st century was popularly portrayed in movies is an interesting example of this). Genuine attempt at discovering universal values is hidden and distorted by individual private and corporate interests behind the militaries of the NATO pact.
2) 1980s-1990s: Hollywood studios rapidly expand beyond NATO's sphere of influence and become truly global as most markets are now accessible. Majority of key studio revenue now comes from abroad. Consolidation in number of transnational media corporations that own the studios. Streamlining of their operations along lines of fellow tangible good producing transnational companies. Rapid horizontal creation of international links to reduce costs and create an immediate global reservoir of cheaper talent, locations, and equipment. Actors and actresses become supranational super celebrities recognized anywhere. Global businesses are increasingly synchronized in space and time.
3) 2000- present: Merging of dozens of national and regional markets into one planetary market that allows rapid global penetration and hype generation (via local auxiliaries). Simultaneous global cinema and disc openings. "Epic" large cash infusion Hollywood movie making style is rapidly emulated by other players like Beijing and Moscow. Besides profit, this is partially done to increase their soft power and control domestically. For non-Western (particularly BRIC) powers to be successful with their mass media projects, they need to absorb/buy Hollywood's cutting edge technical, CGI, and art talent. That is already happening and is currently causing peripheral cooperation/merging between movie studios of all key regional political powers on earth.
Stage 2 saw the serious streamlining ("dumbing down") of plots and character backgrounds of biggest budget Hollywood pieces so not too much appeal is lost in the translation for foreigners. Reliance on cartoony cardboard cut out Americana archetypes for characters still continues (with other ethnic archetypes increasingly playing a bigger and bigger role).
Stage 4 will be the most interesting one yet.
THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.