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China Screen Press

China Film Bureau clamps-down on US co-pros     Back to CPS Issues
Aug 27, 2012 ShangHai Evening Post 新闻晚报
Sep 1, 2012 Beijing Business Today 北京商报by Jiang Meng-wei
Jun 5, 2012 21世纪经济报道by Tao Si-Ran
Sep 19, 2012 新浪网
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang
After the announcement of the new China-US film policy earlier this year, more and more films are questionably labeled "co-productions with the US", like Looper, Cloud Atlas and The Expendables 2 to increase profitability for foreign partners.

To clamp-down on potential abuses, Zhang Pei-min, Deputy Chief of the Film Bureau of China publicly announced in a recent seminar they would assess claimed US co-productions strictly. He said some Hollywood imports badged as co-productions enter the domestic market without usual import-restrictions, overlapping the market space and threatening domestic films.

As a legal co-production, a Chinese companies' contribution must be more than one-third of budget, whilst some of the leading actors must be Chinese and a significant proportion of scenes must be shot in China.

Currently some so-called co-productions see Chinese production companies involved only in the marketing of foreign films, investing only small token amounts in their budgets, and taking no part in production. Most Chinese companies do not have the finances to meet the third-of –budget requirement, and those that do mount their own productions rather than enter co-productions.

Foreign companies with co-production status usually achieve 20% higher income than foreign quota films. On a revenue-sharing basis, imported movies take 25% of box-office income, whilst foreign co-production partners take about 43%, and are not restricted by import quotas.

The Expendables 2 which has investment from Chinese company Letv has been classified as an import film. The status of Looper and Iron Man 3 that both have investment from Chinese company DMG are not yet determined, as is Cloud Atlas which has partial investment from Chinese company Dreams of the Dragon Pictures. However it s likely Keanu Reeves's Man of Tai Chi with investment by China Film will be granted co-production status.

Co-production with the US is a new trend in China. DMG announced their global strategic partnership with Walt Disney in April this year, making Iron Man 3 together. Bona, with 19.9% shares owned by News Corporation, is in negotiations with several Hollywood companies to start shooting co-productions next year. "Co-production made by China and U.S. will be the leading force of the world film industry in the next ten years." the CEO of Bona, Yu Dong said.

James Cameron quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, says his sequel to Avatar, that in its first installment made $182 million USD at the Chinese box office, will be made with a Chinese partner.


Directors top China’s film industry ranks
Sep 18, 2012 Ceweekly 中国经济周刊by Li Yan
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

"In the film industry, the most important thing is your connections. Without connections you can do nothing, and the directors are the center of the connection net” says Wu Ruo-qi, producer of mainly made low-budget films.

“You can change anyone except the director... famous directors always have appointments. You show the name, you will have plenty of investors. Sometimes the director may 'kidnap' the investor when films require continuous additional investment. With investors needing to find more money or new investors, the control of directors is clear." says Wu.

A director’s fame can not only attract money, but save money too.

“To work with a famous director, production crew will lower their charges and stars will accept lower pay." Wu said that the famous directors can lower production costs by more than one-third.  

In addition, some directors monopolize production companies. Feng Xiao-gang has directed five of major production companyH. Brothers’ thirteen total films for example.  

In 2010, Feng Xiao-gang' s Aftershock earned H Brothers a massive 32.8 million USD, compared to all other movies made by H. Brothers this year totaling only 12.7 million USD.  

President of H. Brothers, Wang Zhong-jun said Feng is their core product. Earlier this year in February, Feng announced on the internet that he wanted to retire after H. Brothers under-performed on the stock market three days in a row, with shareholders making less than 50.9 million USD.


Animation income soars
Sep 18, 2012 艺恩网by Entgroup
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

According to a research report by Chinese market-research firm Entgroup, in 2011 income from animated movies rose 210% on 2010 figures to 268 million USD. The proportion of all films income for the same period has grown to 12.85% from a 2010 rate of 5.34%.

Twenty-five animated movies screened last year, including ten foreign movies that between them earned the lion’s share of 80.6% of total animated movies income.


Film Bureau announces domestic-screen encouragement fund
Sep 16, 2012 北京青年报
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

Deputy Chief of the Film Bureau of China, Mao Yu, is planning a special fund to encourage cinemas to show domestic movies. A policy announcement is expected soon.

From 2003 to 2011, domestic movies earned more than 50% of all box-office income, but dropped to 30% in the first half of the year because of the new China-US film policy.


IMAX expanding in China
Sep 12, 2012 经济观察网by Hu Fang-Jie
Sep 12, 2012 经济观察网by Li Jing
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

“The Greater China region has become the world's fastest-growing area for IMAX”, says Yuan Hong-gen, Vice-President of IMAX China. The chain is increasing both production and projection in the territory.

In 2010, there were thirteen IMAX cinemas in China, now the number has grown exponentially to seventy eight. In March 2011 IMAX signed partner ship contracts with Chinese leviathan exhibitor Wanda, with Wanda now contracting to further grow IMAX to ninety-one cinemas

On September 12, IMAX and major Chinese production company H. Brothers announced that four H. Brothers film will be reversioned for IMAX this year, with five more in the future.


US blockbusters lose in foreign blackout 13, 2012 艺恩网by 1900
Aug 31, 2012 网易by Song Xiao-ka
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

Under the so-called “domestic movie protection month” policy during July and August, only four Hollywood blockbusters were on shown over nine days.

Over the northern summer of July and August, Chinese cinemas exhibited domestic movies almost exclusively, with four Hollywood film openings postponed. The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man both started their runs on Aug 27, Prometheus on September 2, and The Expendables 2 on September 4. With the same target audience and short marketing lead-time, unsatisfactory income was reported for all.

In China, all foreign films are imported by state-owned companies. Insiders claim state-owned China Film Group sets only the month of release in their contacts, with an exact date only communicated to the production company a week before first screening. Production companies and distributors do not have the right to negotiate exact release dates.

According to China Film News box-office data, by September 16 income from The Dark Knight Rises has reached 51.2 million USD, The Amazing Spider-Man 48.3 million USD, Prometheus 29.7 million USD, and The Expendables 2 has earned 40.3 million USD.


Chaotic release-date changes
Sep 12, 2012 时光网by Cui Ting, Xiao Dao
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

Last-minute release-date changes are having a chaotic effect on the Chinese movie market, with a variety of reasons quoted.

Chinese film White Deer Plain has postponed their expected release date because of technical failures in their digital exhibition copies.

Chinese film Mystery has been delayed by a censorship stalemate, with the director refusing to make new amendments demanded by government censors forty-one days before release date.

Chinese company DMG has not publicly declared the reason for its U.S. co-production Looper changing release date, but it is widely believed that final government determination of co-production status is the cause. If Looper is classified as an import film, it will be not be allowed to be shown on the October 1 National Day, when only domestic movies may be shown.

Japanese animated movie Detective Conan: The Eleventh Striker was postponed by the distributor because of continuing Sino-Japanese disputes about Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.


Chinese box-office breaks 10 billion CNY
Aug 16, 2012 法制晚报by Yu De-shu
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

According to data from cinema operator companies, total Chinese box-office for 2012 has already reached 10.1 billion CNY [about 1.6 billion USD], with a projected whole-year performance goal of 18 billion CNY [about 2.8 billion USD].

The proportion of domestic to foreign movie income is [around]40% to 60% through July this year, the result largely dependent on the ‘domestic movies production month’ policy. 

Box-office records of the top five foreign movies in China by Aug 15 are: Titanic 3D (147 million USD), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (107 million USD), The Avengers(89 million USD), Men in Black III (78 million USD), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (61 million USD).

Box-office records for the top five domestic movies in China by Aug 15 are: Painted Skin: The Resurrection(114 million USD), The Four (31 million USD), Caught in the Web (28 million USD), The Great Magician (27 million USD), Mission Incredible: Adventures On The Dragon's Trail (26 million USD).


James Cameron CPG China launch
Aug 10, 2012 ZhongGuoWenHuaBao 中国文化报by Qu Xiao-ya
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

A signing ceremony to mark the founding of a Chinese branch of US director James Cameron’s Cameron Pace Group (CPG) was held on August 8 in Tianjing.

A day later, the group announced commencement of their first project in China, a 3D documentary, Beijing, the Royal City. A group spokesperson said that CPG China is their first foreign branch, designed to help Chinese filmmakers make better movies, and to train talented Chinese film-technology workers.


Oriental DreamWorks to build Shanghai theme park
Aug 7, 2012 Mtime 时光网Li Xiao-dao
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

DreamWorks announced that they will build a theme park in Shanghai with three Chinese partner companies. The park named ‘Dream Center is planned to open in 2016, with a total investment of 3.14 billion USD.

These same four companies are also partnering to make Kung Fu Panda 3 in 2016 for screening in 2017.

Dream Center will consist of cinemas, shops, restaurants, hotels and the biggest IMAX screen in the world. CEO of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg, said it will be equal to Disneyland [which is also in building in Shanghai, and will be finished in 2015. ed.].

The partnership of Oriental DreamWorks was announced in February, with DreamWorks holding a 45% share, and Chinese companies holding 55%, creating an investment fund of 2 billion USD over the next five years.


Wanda for European cinema expansion
Aug 2, 2012 21世纪经济报道by Ding Yu-ping
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

After gaining approval of both [Chinese and USA, ed.] governments for buying [world’s largest cinema chain.ed.] AMC, Wanda turns its attention to Europe.

According to informed sources, Wanda has already begun intentionality negotiations with some of Europe’s biggest cinema chains. President of Wanda Group, Wang Jian-lin, said that Wanda will occupy 20% of the world cinema market by the year 2020.


Producers reject directors’ appeal for film copyright royalties
Aug 2, 2012 凤凰 and
Aug 16, 2012 法制晚报by Yu De-shu and Xu Si-jian
Summarised by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

Currently the government is soliciting film industry opinions about proposed amendments to China’s Copyright Law. New head of China Film Directors' Guild, Li Shao-hong  has made appeals that directors should have statutory rights of copyright and royalties in their films. 

However many producers claim their companies would become bankrupt if this was passed into law. 

In 2010, China’s Film Directors' Guild signed copyright and royalty-sharing agreements with interrelated organizations of the European Union, with some Guild members recently receiving royalty payments from Spain. In accord with these agreements, Li argues for three ammendments to firstly ensure directors have the copyright in their films; second, that directors receive royalty payments when their films are resold, and lastly that these rights be protected for a term of 70 years after first production. 

Under China’s current law, film copyright belong to production companies, who pay their directors as sub-contractors. Li’s amendment proposes that film copyright continue to vest with production companies, but that directors, writers and inter-related creators have the right to earn money from others using the film.

Many producers think the impact of the proposal will be fatal for the industry. Hu Ming, vice president of H. Brothers said that if the amendment is passed, "we can all close the company".

Another producer, An Xiao-fen said that 90% of production companies are losing money, tand that they can't afford for directors and writers to get paid first from production, then demand more from copyright later.


‘Domestic movies production month’ extended to August
Aug 1, 2012 Xin Jing Bao 新京报by Yang Lin
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

The so-called ‘domestic movies production month’ locking out exhibition of foreign films will continue for the holiday season from July through August.

From June 19 to August 26, only two Hollywood movies found local Chinese screens; Ice Age: Continental Drift and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. US blockbusters The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man both await screening-starts on August 27 at the end of the cinema-going holiday season.

According to official July box-office data, the ratio of domestic to foreign movie income is 85% to 15%, the first time domestic movie income has exceeded foreign movie earnings since January this year.

However total Chinese box-office income for July has fallen to only 219.8 million USD, a drop of 15.7 million USD compared with July 2011 returns.

Speaking to a reporter of The People’s Daily, Deputy Chief of the Film Bureau of China, Zhang Hong-sen said they are thinking about making a new interim production policy to enhance the ability of domestic movies to compete with foreign movies.

Some industry-insiders comment that ‘domestic movies production month’ makes competition between domestic movies even more cut-throat, arguing that rather movies.


Local distributors paying off film critics
July 30, 2012 Smweekly 南都娱乐周刊by Liu Qian, Zhou Yi
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

Reporters researching the working conditions of film critics in China, found they usually were bought-off by distribution companies.

A famous film critic claims off the record," The distribution companies of Hollywood blockbusters won't give money to us, but some distribution companies of domestic movies will pay, usually 1000 CNY (157 USD), a few of them pay between 2000 and 5000 CNY(314~785 USD).”

Furthermore, some critics hired people to write fake film reviews on major-movie fan- websites, taking money from distribution companies. A critic said he reviewed a well-known director's new movie for a large Chinese review website, with his team providing all 2,000 positive blog entries about the movie.


China Film Bureau checks rocketing ticket prices
July 27, 2012 HuaShangBao 华商报by Zhu Qin-ji
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

Head of the Film Bureau of China and The Office of National Film Special Funds, Tong Gang, said they will control escalating movie tickets prices in China, speaking at the national film special funds management conference on July 25.

Currently in Xi An (the key city of northwest China), regular 2D tickets price are 7.85 to 12.56 USD, and even more expensive for 3D films at 10.99 to 14.13 USD, and for IMAX3D, 15.7to 18.84 USD.

Currently under local discount programs less than 10% of all movie-goers pay full price however, with many paying a more affordable 6.28 USD for 2D screening.  


China reports more accurate box-office data
July 14, 2012 京华时报by Nie Kuan-mian
Summarized by Zhang Yan and Ian Lang

The Office of National Film Special Funds of China is now providing a service reporting exact dates of box-office income from July 1.

Reports are provided to the provincial branches of the Office of National Film Special Funds, cinema operator companies, and state-owned distribution companies to provide data for individual cinemas in their chains.

Reports are now also provided as a paid service to private production companies, distribution companies, cinema operator companies, and research institutes.

June box-office
June 28, by Zhang Yan
China recorded a total June box-office of $210.4 million USD.
According to China Film News,  MIB III released May 25 earned around $80 million USD. By July 1, Madagascar 3 released June 8 took around $29 million USD, The Hunger Gamesreleased June 14 took $26 million USD, and Chinese movie Painted Skin: The Resurrection took a record $47 million USD in its first three days.
Local action-comedy Black & White earned the second highest Chinese film income of June releases with $12 million USD reported at the box-office.
China’s Digital Max System challenges IMAX
June 27, 2012 China Film News 中国电影报by Ting Jun
Stellar Mega International, a major cinema operator in China, has just bought eighteen 3D Digital Max Systems (DMAX).DMAX is a new Chinese high-end 3D projection system, developed by China Film Group and China Motion Picture Science & Technology Institution. (Currently IMAX is used in most 3D giant-screen projection systems in China. DMAX is cheaper than IMAX. ed.)
China Film Group plans to build 100 DMAX systems in 3 years.
Zhang Yimou rumoured for Wanda sign-on
June 13, 2012 Smweekly南都娱乐周刊by Zhang Yan, Liu Qian
After ten years with his old production company, Zhang Yimou is rumoured to have signed with Wanda Production Company for a fee of $31.4 million USD.
Founded last year, Wanda Production Company is a subsidiary of one of China’s biggest real-estate companies the Wanda Group. Wanda Group also owns thelargest cinema chain in China, (with 750 screens and 15% of China's box-office income according to Wanda’s official web-site, ed.), and in May 2012, bought AMC, the largest cinema chain in the USA.
Wanda also founded the Wanda Culture Industry Group on June 18 to consolidate all its culture companies.
Local Painted Skinsmashes box-office
June 6, 2012 搜狐网
Painted Skin: The Resurrection  produced by one of China’s biggest film production companies H. Brothers, continues to break box-office records for Chinese movies after premiering June 28.
Box-office income for the first week is now reported at $62.8 million USD. Before Painted Skin’s release, The Hunger Games, Madagascar 3,and This Means War occupied most screens with very average box-office returns.
Despite poor audience-feedback on Painted Skin’s story quality, industry-insiders attribute its box-office surge to this lack-lustre competition (and high 3D ticket-prices also. ed.)
Although filmed in 2D, H.Brothers transformed it to 3D and only released in 3D to optimise revenue from high ticket prices.

Painted Skin, a fairy love story, is directed by 40 year old Wu Ershan, former TV commercials director with strong visual skills

China now world’s third biggest media market 
June 13, 2012National Business Daily每日经济新闻by Dai Yu, Ling Jianping
China’s expenditure on media and entertainment has now reached $109 billion USD, ranking third only Japan’s $193 billion USD, and world leader USA at $464 billion, according to Price Waterhouse Coopers in its 2012~2016 World Entertainment and Media Industry Perspective released June 12.
Price Waterhouse anticipates China’s media and entertainment market share to grow to $192.5 billion by 2016, with average movie industry annual growth at 22.1%, and internet advertising set to rise to 32.1%.
July foreign-movie freeze-out
June 5, 2012 by Zhang Yan
Throughout July China’s cinemas willpremiereonly domestic movies, freezing out foreign movies from June 28 to July 24 during China’s busiest annual cinema-going holiday season.
According to data from法制晚报),China’s box-office income is about $1.2 billion USD for the first half of 2012. Because of a new movie import deal between China and the USA lifting the foreign-film quota from 20 to 32 films per year, China’s domestic box-office has fallen to less than 35% of total Chinese box-office according to Fawan data.

China’s government needs to see domestic percentage go up to at least 50% as soon as possible for this deal to remain. After July 25, a blitz of Hollywood movies will be premiered including new titles Snow White and The Huntsman, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, and Ice Age: