Are American movies considered to be a genre in other countries?

Let’s say it’s twenty-five years ago and you walk into a video store. There would be different sections for different genres of movies. You’d have a section for comedies, one for dramas, on for horror, one for action thrillers, etc.

And some movies would also have a section for foreign movies. A movie like La Cage aux Folles, for example, would be in the foreign movie section rather than in the comedy section. There was a perception that people looking to rent foreign movies were different than people looking to rent comedies. Foreign movies were seen as their own genre. And while video stores have mostly disappeared, this perception still exists.

Does that perception also exist about American movies in other countries? Do people in Europe, for example, group movies like Titanic, The Dark Knight Rises, Halloween, and American Pie together in a single genre because they’re all American movies?

If they are grouped together as foreign movies, are they grouped with movies from other countries? In France, for example, would American movies be grouped in with German movies and Chinese movies? Or are American movies seen as their own genre, separate from other countries?

Here in Panama, nearly all movies shown in theaters are American-made, or at least the original language was English. (They are mostly subtitled in Spanish, although action and kid’s movies are usually shown in a dubbed version as well.) We get very few movies in which the original language was Spanish, and very few in other languages. (I saw Amelie and Parasite in the theater with Spanish subtitles, but those are the only cases I can recall.) “American movies” are just “movies.”

Back when we had Blockbuster, there may have been a few shelves of movies in Spanish (Mexican comedies like Cantinflas) or other languages, but 95% of the stock was American/English language movies.

They have been, for purposes of being banned. Communist Romania under Ceaușescu, for example.

No, in South Africa, they were not their own genre. Most movies available here back then were American, anyway, and they would be grouped by genres like Action, Family, Romance etc along with other English-language producers like British or Australian.

Funnily-enough, South African English movies were grouped under the “Local” genre.

The reality was and is almost opposite to the OP’s suggestion. Here in Northern Europe, 25 years ago, the vast majority of popular movies were American. There wasn’t any kind of group genre for American films, as movies almost = American, and many people never watched anything else, at least voluntarily.

These days, things are more varied, but American films still rule the roost. European films may or may not warrant a label of French, Italian, Swedish etc., but American films never do. Intuitively, to this day, movies ~ American.

It possibly depends on the country and the language they speak there. In both Canada and Quebec, most movies are from the States and are grouped into the usual categories. Even in Mexico, this is also the case - the shear volume of American movies does not mandate its own category when movies are labelled.

I doubt this is the case elsewhere, too. Perhaps India (Bollywood), Nigeria (Nollywood) and Egypt supposedly have large film industries in native languages, and may have relatively fewer US films.

I was also wondering about China, Japan, and South Korea, which have their own sizeable local film industries and where English is not the native language.

a guy I knew worked in Saudi Arabia for a few years. They actually showed Three’s company on TV. He said it was so heavily censored you could not even figure out the plot. I assume they knew the basic premise of the show when they decided to show it but maybe not.

Even in Japan the popular movies are very heavily American. See 2019:

Ah, video stores! Fond memories.

In Ireland and in Australia American films were not separated. Action, comedy, drama, etc genre would contain English-language films without distinction of nationality; American films would of course predominate. Foreign-language films were separated. Films from different countries might be grouped as, e.g., European films (which would not include British films), or separated into French, Italian, etc.

I will second this, from the perspective of an American who has been living in Europe for the past few years.

I’ve traveled all over the continent, but I’ll use Paris as a specific example, because they’re so movie-crazy, and because France makes a point of aggressively supporting local filmmakers and the French film industry. As you walk around Paris, movie posters are everywhere. There’s even a huge multi-screen cinema on the Champs-Élysées, a couple blocks from the Arc de Triomphe, which is some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

And even there, with lots of French productions being officially supported, fully half of the posters and the multiplex screens are given over to American movies. In my home country, if you go into our local equivalent of a Best Buy, the disc section is probably two-thirds American films, divided into the usual categories (Action, Romance, Western, etc.) with American and European discs slotted right next to each other within those genres.

One additional observation that may be of interest: In the US, we think of “foreign film” as kind of a separate category because the movies that get imported from overseas are targeted at a particular audience and therefore follow that audience’s expectations of form and content. The movies are generally serious, with highbrow intentions for social or political commentary, or historical representation. So Americans tend to think “foreign movies” are just like that.

Except that what gets imported is only a subset of what actually gets produced. There’s a huge amount of production outside the US that is aimed at their national audiences, lowbrow comedies and trashy thrillers and all the rest of those disreputable genres, just like in the US. It’s simply that those movies don’t get imported, so US audiences never see them. Part of it is that comedy doesn’t translate; another part is that the “foreign movie” audience is self-selecting, and lowest-common-denominator junk isn’t of interest.

In France, the biggest movie in years was the comedy Qu’est-qu’on a fait au bon Dieux? (roughly, What did we do to God?), which is about an older French couple who is distressed that their daughters are choosing to marry non-white non-Christian husbands. It is terribly racist, in the way only the French seem able to achieve. But it was a huge hit, so of course they thought, let’s sell it to the Americans. International distributors took one look at it, and said, no thank you. It sold millions of tickets at home, but I would be shocked if more than a handful of Americans on this message board have even heard of it, let alone seen it.

The flip side is, while foreign-produced “trash” entertainment doesn’t generally crack into the American market, the inverse doesn’t hold true. American media has such global dominance that a lot of the junk still manages to filter out into the world market.

One exception to this principle is when the American original is extremely cheap to produce. Then, instead of that property being dubbed for export, it just gets remade and replicated for different markets. A good example would be the Real Housewives franchise; there are versions in Hungary, Greece, France, and Italy, just off the top of my head, and probably a lot of others.

Sorry for a bit of a digression. I hope this adds some perspective.

This is what I recall as well. The latest James Bond and Mad Max would go in the action section. Monty Python, Crocodile Dundee, and Mr. Bean were in the comedy section. The foreign section was for movies in a non-English language.

I would go further than that and say that (back in the day) I have seen Canadian video stores with a Canadian movie section apart from regular Hollywood movies.

Was that a legal issue? I know there was a law that required Canadian television networks to broadcast at least ten percent Canadian content. Was there something similar in video stores? If so, video stores might have created a Canadian section to show they were in compliance.

Thanks to the pandemic and the resulting demand for new product on streaming services, Americans are now being exposed to all sorts of less-than-prestige imports. The Netflix AI sent my wife and me down a rabbit hole filled with Scandinavian cop shows and comedies. Not the greatest stuff, but palatable for the entertainment-starved.

I doubt it. I think it was just a way of showcasing homegrown talent (like bookstores with a section for local authors).

Canada has laws saying a certain percentage of radio and television time, for example, must be devoted to Canadian content. There have been mutterings of doing this to the Internet. Canadian content varies widely in quality. It is sometimes worth seeking out. In Canada, a few people are jingoistic and do this more frequently than others.

Quebec, both culturally and due to language issues, is much more supportive of local stars. It has a separate Quebec celebrity culture (of stars), “vedettes”, generally well known in Quebec and sometimes also in France or in the Francophonie “Commonwealth” - depending on talent and whether Canada is currently in or out of fashion. Only occasionally do they become widely known in English Canada. So Quebecois movies are a big thing in Quebec.

German video stores never had “American” sections nor “Foreign films” section. I estimate that about 70 % of movies were/are American anyway, those and German and other foreign movies were all just one big section. A probable exception were Turkish movies which could make a separate section, but that’s due to the millions of people in Germany with Turkish descent, so that always has been a big market.

If I recall correcftly (it’s been 15 years since I visitied a video rental store) the situation in The Netlerlands was similar to what is described in the other posts. Movies were organized by genre (action, comedy etc.), which would mostly be American but could also include Dutch or other European movies. There would be a separate section for art movies, most non-western movies would end up there (which mirrors the idea of non-US movies being seen as art movies in the US).