American beauty: trade flows and export costs of US movies


This paper estimates a hedonic model of revenues for 1431 American movies in 45 non-American countries over the period 2002–2013. Such an extensive analysis is proven to be useful to estimate the effect of indicators of geographical and cultural distance on total revenue and the number of American films exported to non-American countries once the model specification also controls for relevant film features. It is found that indicators of cultural and geographical distance, in addition to the Human Development Index, have a significant effect on both the number of American films shown and the revenue obtained. Estimation results have been also used to appraise the importance of film features in different groups of countries from the perspective of their degree of development and distance from the USA.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    See, for example, Melitz (2003) and Hanson and Xiang (2011).

  2. 2.

    A remarkable exception to this is Holloway (2014), who, using information at the film level, estimate the impact of quality on the propensity of a given movie entering a foreign market.

  3. 3.

    See notes on CEPII’s distance measures: The GeoDist database, Mayer and Zignano (2011).

  4. 4.

    The nearest neighbor was estimated with the R package FNN. Results of this experiment and all the other estimations not explicitly reported in this paper can be obtained from the authors upon request.

  5. 5.

    "Hollywood goes global. Bigger abroad." The Economist, Feb 17th 2011.

  6. 6.

    In a regression between these two variables, the coefficient associated to CD is − 0.02 with a p value equal to 0.048. However, the coefficient of a regression between CD and GD is insignificant, p = 0.81.


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Correspondence to Dimitri Paolini.

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The author Dimitri Paolini has received research grant from PRIN (Research projects of national interest) by Minister of Education and from Fondazione Banco di Sardegna. The authors G. Meloni and JD. Tena declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Meloni, G., Paolini, D. & Tena, J.D. American beauty: trade flows and export costs of US movies. J Cult Econ 42, 701–716 (2018).

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  • American movies
  • Export
  • Geographical and cultural distance

JEL Classification

  • Z1
  • F14
  • L82