The study will examine the growing popularity of YouTube films
A study is to be carried out into the links between films on video websites like YouTube and big screen cinema.
Prof Dina Iordanova from St Andrews University will examine what makes some low-budget movies so popular.
The study, which will also look at the Bollywood market, is to receive a £240,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust which backs original research.
It will be called Dynamics of World Cinema: Transnational Channels of Global Film Circulation.
Prof Iordanova said: "We know a lot about Hollywood's global operation, and we have all sorts of box office data and charts on them. But we know next to nothing of the other side of the equation, of those films that are not in the blockbuster sphere, that are distributed via less visible channels but are still popular.
"In the course of our study, we will establish how much money non-Hollywood films actually make, and are likely to reveal that they enjoy a growing domestic and international commercial success.
"The study will examine the phenomenal growth of film festivals around the world and will assess if they indeed have become an independent distribution circuit.
"We will also assess the impact that new internet-enabled channels such as YouTube, online forums and download sites have on the changing dynamics in world cinema."
The two and a half year investigation will look into the ways film reaches a growing and increasingly diverse community of viewers that are interested in getting more specific content than the blockbusters playing at cinemas.