October 10th, 2011
12:37 PM ET

Zakaria: Why 'Mission Impossible' premieres in India

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Going to the movies is a great American pastime. And whether it's Kung Fu Panda or Harry Potter, there's always some extra cache in catching the films as soon as they're released. So if you're a Mission Impossible fan, you know that the latest installment of Tom Cruise's action series is opening soon. But if you want to be there for the first day, first show, don't go to Los Angeles to watch the world premiere in Hollywood. Try New Delhi or Mumbai. You see, Ghost Protocol releases across India five days before it hits U.S. cinemas.

And it's not an isolated case. Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the comic book series Tintin opens in Asia and the Middle East more than a month before it hits American cinemas.  Now, we are all used to a world in which events, ideas and products start in the West and move East. Is this the beginning of the Great Reversal? Well, maybe.

Partly this is happening so companies can avoid piracy in Asian countries. Earlier, when movies would arrive in Chinese or Indian cinemas two months late, many fans there would have resorted to pirated DVDs. But there's also a major economic trend here that big companies are picking up on. Overall, U.S. consumer spending declined by 2% in 2010. The sector that declined the most was entertainment, by 7%. It makes sense, when times are tough, you can't cut back that much on essentials like food and housing, so you spend less on things like movies and music.

Meanwhile, Indians, for example, are moving in exactly the opposite direction. Consumer spending is up in general, but on entertainment, it is up 14% in 2010. Emerging economies, including China and India, account for half of global output, but only a third of global consumption. This is changing, and it's not just the movie companies that have figured this out.

When Dell launched its new ultra thin laptop last week, it made China its first stop. The XPS 14z is being marketed as the world's thinnest laptop, but you wouldn't be able to buy it in the U.S. yet. You have to wait. You see, China is now the world's biggest PC market, so it gets prioritized.

Look at the auto industry. The 2013 Chevy Malibu is going to launch in Korea and China before it hits dealers here in the USA, and General Motors has done that for years with a series of new Buicks.

So there is a big shift at work here - a picture of the two-speed world. Consumers in developing markets are growing in importance in the eyes of the biggest global companies. Meanwhile, here in America, consumer demand is stagnant.

Could things change? Yes, but only if we get growth going again in the West and, particularly, in America. U.S. companies are currently holding more than $2 trillion in cash reserves. I saw a chart this week that illustrated in the starkest possible way why this needs to change. Take a look at the chart in the video above. It plots corporate spending along with employment numbers. The correlation is unmistakable and tight. As corporate investment goes up, employment goes up.

So the question everyone in Washington should be asking is how do we get corporations to invest more and sooner, looking at permanent changes in tax and regulatory policy. Let's agree on five measures and pass them right away. This doesn't need to be Mission Impossible for America, and we don't even need Tom Cruise to fix our problems.

For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day. Also, for more What in the World? pieces, click here.

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soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. mart

    So all the corporations laid of all thier western employess to go and get cheap over seas labour so they could increase their profits and now have realized they have wiped out their own market for thier goods and now have to sell in the cheap market encomies

    October 11, 2011 at 8:00 am | Reply
  2. SmarterthanU

    What a great move! Finally the US wakes up to international trends.

    October 11, 2011 at 8:06 am | Reply
  3. PJ

    You mean Tom Thumb is going to play the action here again?

    October 11, 2011 at 8:27 am | Reply
  4. Sanjib

    What is wrong in openning Hollywood movies in India or China? It is just business as India/China is booming and people spending more money on entertainment....that's all (similar reasons are for cars as well). It is certainly no insult to America, it is only the intelligence of film distributors.....! I am sure Tom Cruise and his colleagues will be very happy if this move make the movie successful and earn a lot of money. All the best for "Ghost Protocol". Though, as Tom is getting a mature actor, it is a good time for him to choose more challenging role in terms of acting (e.g. Rainman) and look for a n OSCAR...!

    October 11, 2011 at 9:29 am | Reply
  5. krm1007

    The Multidimensional Poverty Index developed by Oxford University shows that India is far poorer than Africa not just in number but also in intensity.
    The new poverty measure shows that 8 states out of the 29 states in India have more poor people than 26 poorest African countries combined. The Multidimensional poverty index views poverty from several different angles instead of just GDP figures. India is crippled by so many problems. For example, India's population growth rate is increasing by the day putting pressure on the limited resources and leaving many Indians in absolute poverty. India is very poor in terms of education, in terms of economic improvement, infrastructure, heath care, etc.

    October 11, 2011 at 10:01 am | Reply
  6. Mobius.Eight

    In other news, India mass-converted to Scientology under the threat of more Mission Impossible movies starring Tom Cruise.

    October 11, 2011 at 10:28 am | Reply
  7. Atom

    India has one of the highest poverty levels... Talking about success for 5% of the population does no justice. Corruption, abortion you name it...why act so tough?

    There are bad people in every country And some go to extreme levels.

    October 11, 2011 at 11:16 am | Reply
  8. Me

    That's okay. It just means I'll get to watch it the next day online instead of two days.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  9. BobH

    OBSERVATION: i think US movie attendance has dropped because the movies suck! Overseas looks like the audience movie corps are aiming for based on the brain dead entertainment being offered here in the states.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  10. krm1007

    "While the war clouds gather from across the North and East,
    Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
    Let us be grateful for a land so fair,
    Let us thank our forefathers who sought independence from the tyranny in India,
    As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer."

    land that we love.
    Stand beside her, and guide her
    Thru the night with a flash from above.
    From Kashmir to Karachi and onto New Delhi,
    And to the oceans, white with foam,
    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, Our home sweet home.
    Home to the rich, poor, needy and tired,
    Home to the Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and everyone else,
    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, The land of the Beautiful and the Brave.

    October 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  11. Toiletman

    " As corporate investment goes up, employment goes up."
    Yes, employment goes up...just in different countries 😀

    October 12, 2011 at 11:54 am | Reply
  12. kamlesh


    please vist this place in india mp one of the most tourist godess place .
    Omkareshwar temple to be found in Madhya Pradesh, ujjain india.
    This Hindu temple is situated on the bank of river Narmada.
    This holy holy place is one among the 12 enshrined Jyotirlinga shrines of the Lord Shiva

    October 13, 2011 at 6:05 am | Reply
    • kamlesh


      October 13, 2011 at 6:05 am | Reply
  13. Sameer Mehta

    Real reason is "Show Me the Money," a well-known phrase uttered by Tom Cruise in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire. Production houses make film to make money, so they will go where money is. As simple as that. In India we have a similar "hinglish' phrase from a old hindi movie " whole thing is that ke bhaya sabse bada rupaiya " 🙂

    October 15, 2011 at 6:24 am | Reply
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