Consider The Dark Knight. It has listed "Country: USA | UK" and "Language: English | Mandarin", with filming locations in USA, UK, Hong Kong and others. Christopher Nolan is born in England.

Yet, I automatically consider this a full-on "American" movie. Why? Is this because:

  • Most of the actors are American?
  • It's produced by Warner Bros. which is an American company?
  • It's so impressive it could only come out of the blockbuster machine that is Hollywood?

Is there actually a clear definition of what constitutes an "American" movie?

(Another example: Dogville has a Danish director, actors from many countries who speak English, filmed inside a studio in Sweden. Is it a "Danish" movie because Von Trier is such a big part of it?)

(On a side note, The Terminator is listed with countries "UK | USA", but I doubt anyone would call it an "English" movie. This must probably be attributed to faulty data entry.)

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    Dogville's a pretty apt example because it's impossible to determine the country of origin from this mess. But overall, since a movie is a production, I'd say that if it was mainly produced by American companies, it's American. Otherwise, it's from somewhere else, or a co-production.
    – Walt
    Sep 14, 2016 at 17:38
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    @Oliver_C this is basically the answer, why not create it as an answer and not comment? Sep 14, 2016 at 18:10
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    @Oliver_C.... I think a formal answer based on what you've written here would be good. I'd like to challenge 2 of the 3 statements here. The movie in question has a number of 'foreign' actors in major roles including Christian Bale in the title role, Heath Ledger as the main antagonist, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han. The 3rd bullet point is the most biased however, many high quality movies come out of productions centered in London, or New Zealand for example. The entire Hobbit / LOTR franchise is based in NZ and I don't think you can claim they are not blockbusters.
    – iandotkelly
    Sep 14, 2016 at 19:51
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    @Walt ... I agree, but the statement in the question is that "I consider it an american movie because ...most of the actors are american, warner bros is american, and only hollywood can make blockbusters", I was disputing 2 of these statements and the conclusion the person asking the question was making from those statements, not answering the question.
    – iandotkelly
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


The country of origin has to do more with trade laws and intellectual rights than anything. Harry Potter is listed as both UK and USA, yet there is very little US footprint in it's creation.

From wikipedia:

The International Federation of Film Archives defines the country of origin as the country of the principal offices of the production company or individual by whom the moving image work was made. No consistent reference or definition exists. Sources include the item itself, accompanying material (e.g. scripts, shot lists, production records, publicity material, inventory lists, synopses etc.), the container (if not an integral part of the piece), or other sources (standard and special moving image reference tools). In law, definitions of "country of origin" and related terms are defined differently in different jurisdictions. The European Union, Canada, and the United States have different definitions for a variety of reasons, including tax treatment, advertising regulations, distribution; even within the European Union, different member states have different legislation. As a result, an individual work can have multiple countries as its "country of origin", and may even have different countries recognized as originating places for the purpose of different legal jurisdictions. Under copyright law in the United States and other signatories of the Berne Convention, "country of origin" is defined in an inclusive way to ensure the protection of intellectual rights of writers and creators.


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