China-US movie co­op­er­a­tion keeps gath­er­ing steam

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Chang Jun Con­tact the writer at junechang@chi­nadai­lyusa. com.

Among all of the busi­ness sec­tors that China and the United States are co­op­er­at­ing and cut­ting deals in, the movie in­dus­try seems to be catch­ing fire at an un­prece­dented pace.

Like all Star Wars fans, I am champ­ing at the bit over the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the lat­est episode of the block­buster sci-fi saga which will have its US pre­miere on Dec 16. I’m also thrilled to see that for the first time in a Ge­orge Lu­cas film, two Chi­nese ac­tors — Don­nie Yen and Jiang Wen — are in its lead cast.

Both among the high­est-paid and most fa­mous ac­tors in China, Yen and Jiang are ex­pected to gen­er­ate lu­cra­tive box of­fice re­turns from China for this Star Wars episode. After all, China is the sec­ond-largest movie mar­ket to the US, and is ex­pected to sur­pass the US by 2017 in of box of­fice rev­enue and num­ber of cine­mas.

In 2014, Chi­nese films har­vested $4.8 bil­lion in box of­fice rev­enue, a 36 per­cent in­crease from 2013 and a clear chal­lenge to the supremacy of im­ported Amer­i­can block­busters.

Ac­cord­ing to John Berra, lec­turer in film and lan­guage stud­ies at Ren­min Univer­sity in Bei­jing, movie in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the world’s two largest economies is not “sim­ply mak­ing mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial ar­range­ments for dis­tri­bu­tion” but “Hol­ly­wood stu­dios and ma­jor Amer­i­can in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies are es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships with China’s film mar­ket to de­sign block­busters with cross-cul­tural ap­peal,” just like Lu­cas­film does with its newly re­leased Star Wars.

Mean­while, more deep­pocket Chi­nese en­ter­prises are seek­ing to en­ter the Amer­i­can mar­ket through cal­cu­lated ac­qui­si­tions “or pro­vide lo­cal­ized ser­vices to US stu­dios that re­quire a more di­rect con­nec­tion to China’s valu­able con­sumer class.”

Although mar­ket co­op­er­a­tion in movies be­tween China and the US is noth­ing new, I’m feel­ing a bit over­whelmed after re­ceiv­ing two in­vi­ta­tions to two events, both in Los An­ge­les in early Novem­ber, events that should only add to the mo­men­tum of this burgeoning sec­tor.

One is the sev­enth an­nual Asia So­ci­ety South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s US-China Film Sum­mit, con­sid­ered one of the most pres­ti­gious gath­er­ings of Hol­ly­wood and Chi­nese film in­dus­try lead­ers. It will be held Nov 1-2.

The other one, the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Film Fes­ti­val (CAFF), which is in its 12th year, will con­vene on the same days and in the same city as the film sum­mit. The fes­ti­val this year will fo­cus on mar­ket trends in China-US movie co-pro­duc­tions.

Since its de­but in 2010, the US-China Film Sum­mit has en­gaged movie in­dus­try lead­ers and pol­icy mak­ers in con­ver­sa­tions about US-China film co-pro­duc­tion, cross-bor­der in­vest­ment and the in­te­gra­tion of Chi­nese and Amer­i­can tal­ent.

Ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers, this year’s sum­mit will high­light an­i­ma­tion, digital and im­mer­sive en­ter­tain­ment and the de­vel­op­ment of trans-Pa­cific tal­ent and fi­nanc­ing.

It will also honor di­rec­tor Lu Chuan, writer and di­rec­tor Cao Baop­ing, Huayi Broth­ers Me­dia CEO James Wang and Melissa Cobb, chief creative of­fi­cer at Ori­en­tal DreamWorks, for their in­dus­try lead­er­ship and ded­i­ca­tion to push­ing US-China col­lab­o­ra­tions to new highs.

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