A Bigger Picture

Toyota mini seriesA trend that started in Asia is hitting the rest of the world quickly. When Toyota’s mini-series came out featuring top actors from Korea, Toyota’s popularity shot up. Not only did hundreds more people pay attention to the cars, but the mini-series itself, directed by Kyo Sung Kim, though overly dramatic and filled with beautiful people, changed the value of commercials. This, in turn, caused sales to rise, and the entertainment industry in Korea to rise. The commercial has, since then, been uploaded onto YouTube and translated into various languages, exponentially growing the popularity of the cast. Though Toyota commercials have been different from the rest in the past, this series, like most Korean dramas, target women, which isn’t surprising because the many of the Asian cultures are usually run by the matriarch, and American women are rising to the front lines of those who make major decisions, like Sheryl Sandberg.

This structure, though somewhat new for the Western world, is quite common in Asia, though none had even come close to the global success of this mini series. In Taiwan, a most memorable tale in the form of a short documentary was about retired old men who used to bike around the shores of Taiwan together. (See it here!) Although it was a great story, it didn’t succeed in making as many waves as did the Toyota mini series did. But, what made such an idea stand out from the typical quick infomercial-like spots was each story connected the people to the land, their friends, and fond memories. From such commercials and series, the culture vibes of a renewed sense of pride in their accomplishments over the years.

Perhaps this is another reason Disney chose to release ‘Iron Man 3’ internationally before it opened domestically. Asia is rising in power, not just China, but all the Eastern countries.

Dragon Ball vol. 1For example, today, Japan is #1 in the world when it comes to anime and manga production. Then comes China/Taiwan, and then, maybe, in a close third, Korea and America would be 4th? The #1 selling comic book of all time is Dragon Ball with 350 million, and then One Piece with 270 million. Most of the awesome devices and ideas in American comic books and sci-fi stories come from Asian animation. From Pacific Rim to the Matrix, everything originates somewhere and, most of the time, it’s from Asian folklore.

So, this so-called ‘explosion’ of ‘Iron Man 3’ in Asia was not so unexpected. Aside from being a co-production with China, though Hollywood leads in the movie industry, America is losing grip on other areas. For a film like ‘IM3‘, which originated from a comic book, to do poorly internationally would have been more surprising. If ‘IM3‘ wanted to cause an uproar and solidify an alliance with China for the rest of time, they would have cast an actual Mandarin person as The Mandarin. (No lie, that would do it.) But American productions often forget the international mindset and lose out on greater profits.

As of now, if Hollywood really wanted to shock the world and compete with international markets, they ought to pick up on the fusion writers out there. Many schools and smaller visual effects production houses abroad are capable of rivaling the grand masterpieces that grace the big screens today. Bored with the strict confines of film, many turn to game art design and excel in it (Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, etc.). However, Asian filmmakers still employ the vfx and, though there are tight regulations in Asian entertainment industries, many have found ways around it.

In all these shifting times, scales, and charts, a common question asked is whether or not America is falling behind. In Asia, it’s been long-established and a popular trend for the music industry to collaborate with television series and movies, so as to make entertainment more appealing to more people. In recent years, Daft Punk worked on ‘Tron: Legacy’ and, recently, Jay-Z on ‘The Great Gatsby’, and it’s considered a new idea. In some ways, Asia truly is the frontrunner in the entertainment field. One co-production I’m eagerly awaiting is the release of ‘Boys Over Flowers 2‘, which features the same cast along with PSY and Dakota Fanning, two who are popular in America and will bring the drama into America. Good thinking, South Korea!

Boys Over Flowers 2

The biggest surprise, I would say, is China allowing ‘Django Unchained’ into theaters. To be honest, their rejection of Tarantino movies is perfectly normal. China is a communist country that still enforces the old ways. There is no way they would allow any films so close democratic into theaters without hacking it out. There are just unwritten rules that must be obeyed when over yonder. For the dreamers who think China may be releasing a bit of slack on the tight reins of the country, remember that it is but a dream.

I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on this subject! Also, I’ll do my best answer any questions you may have.