Understanding content genre popularity across the world

June 10

As a member of the Content and Acquisitions team here at Inflight Dublin, quantitative research of box office trends and viewership figures is an important part of my role, helping me in my quest (yes, a quest) to propose content that our clients and their passengers will absolutely love.

Oftentimes this research can reveal some really interesting and unexpected insights into audience trends and preferences. For instance, I recently came across a fascinating study by the American Film Market concerning genres, and how some are more (or less) popular in certain countries than others.

Take, for instance, comedy films. AnchormanSome Like it Hot… Everyone loves a good comedy, right? Well, evidently, some more so than others:

As you can see from the above, a trend appears that can roughly be applied on a continent-wide basis: Comedy films are least popular in Asian countries like South Korea and Japan; slightly more liked in Russia; they’re pretty popular in the US and Canada; and consistently so across Europe, especially in Italy, which is seen by many cinéastes as the spiritual home of the genre.

However, though they might like a hearty laugh, apparently the Italians aren’t such big fans of big guns and loud explosions. Let’s look at action films:

As you can see, whereas comedies were the most popular genre in Italy by far, action films are right down at the bottom. This same inverse logic applies to South Korea and Japan – if they weren’t majorly keen on comedy, they love action, and are amongst the most avid devotees of the genre globally.

Very surprisingly, for a country that has produced everything from Die Hard, to The Terminator to The Matrix, action films aren’t so popular in the US, coming in at second last.

How and ever, they do love documentaries! Along with Australia, this genre is massive in the US and Canada, no doubt partly due to the worldwide popularity of distributors such as National Geographic and Discovery.

What’s interesting about dramas is that there is a disparity when it comes to Asia – it’s super popular in South Korea while distinctly not so in Japan and China.

In Europe, it’s generally a liked genre, and performs consistently well across the continent, sometimes exceptionally so – James Cameron’s Titanic, for instance, is the highest grossing film of all-time in France (21,774,181 tickets sold to date!).

Somewhat surprising considering they weren’t so into comedies is that Russians really like them when they’re of the romantic persuasion. Mexico, however, leads the way here, and are big fans – recent Hollywood films like Fifty Shades Freed did particularly well here, and it has a healthy home-grown market too  – Everybody Loves Somebody and ¿Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño? are two quintessentially Mexican romcoms, and performed really well domestically.

Mexican cinemagoers are clearly an eclectic group. Not only do they love romance and heartbreak, but slasher flicks and zombie apocalypses too – horror films are massively popular here. South Korea comes second, where they have a great home-grown horror market – if you haven’t yet, I sincerely recommend you check out Train to Busan and The Wailing, two really acclaimed horror films that South Korean audiences went to in high numbers.

Of course, the American Film Market’s research isn’t an exact science and there will always be exceptions to the rules. For instance, despite being apathetic towards action films in general, at the time of writing, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War are hitting massive numbers at the Italian box office – so audience preferences aren’t always so clear-cut.

“Audience preferences aren't always clear-cut”

Nevertheless, the findings are still really interesting and valuable, revealing, in an empirical sense, general tendencies and preferences amongst filmgoers of different countries when it comes to genre.

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