According to a recent Sky News report, China will soon outstrip Hollywood in film production. In a recent piece from the Agence France Presse, China is now number two to the US market in ticket sales. Though Hollywood movies produce the stronger revenue at the Chinese box office, there are increasingly powerful exceptions. The biggest current hit in the Asian market is the Chinese movie Journey to the West. Of course, all estimates about who is number one in the international market is always open to debate. It depends upon how you frame the question. The American box office is number one in the amount of money made primarily because of the cost of tickets in the US. In reality, American movie attendance has been in steep decline for years (and will continue dropping). Heck, that attendance decline is one of the reasons why theaters keep upping the ticket cost. Likewise, American mainstream movie production has dropped. Currently, Hollywood only produces about 15 per cent of the movies made internationally. We are way behind India in the amount of movies made, and almost as far behind as Nigeria. Eventually, Nollywood will surpass Hollywood in sheer terms of output. But does this matter?  After all, we have Johnny Depp and they don't. More importantly, Hollywood has the kind of money that can buy Johnny Depp, and they don't. Money – and lots of it – has always been the secret to Hollywood. In theory, the Hollywood cinema took global dominance because of its superior quality. In reality, it had to do with a series of extremely convenient historical factors.

Obviously my knee jerk response is to say no. But that tends to be my knee jerk response to many things. Twenty years of fatherhood does that to a guy. However, the question is being raised in many quarters. During the past year there has been a virtual parade of articles ranging from a CNBC piece on the end of movie studios to critic Andrew O'Hehir's speculations on the death of film culture, along with Keanu Reeves' view on the death of analog film-making and numerous pronouncements by the British and European press. Almost every component of the industry has received its own obituary.

In many parts of the country, the leaves are already turning brown. It is due to drought, not seasonal change. The same is true at the box office. The 2012 box office is at its lowest level in...well, take your pick. According to a recent report, it has been the worst box office since 1993. I seem to recall that an earlier report placed it as the worst since 1995. Some analysts predict that the final tally for the summer box office will be down by 3 per cent  from 2011, and you may remember that 2011 was already down to a 16 year low at the time. Likewise, 2010 saw the lowest attendance since 1997. Inexplicably, the mid-1990s were the golden years, and it’s all been downhill ever since. Based upon many of my past postings (see Dickens of a Mess), the steady decline of the Hollywood box office isn't exactly a surprise.

About two and a half years ago, I argued that the suits running Hollywood didn't know what they were talking about in their long-term projections on the economic development of the business. Back then, they were insisting that the industry was recession-proof and that it...