China Supports Hollywood’s Film Industry

Posted by: Paul Ebeling

From a cameo by Chinese space station Tiangong-1 in Si-Fi blockbuster Gravity to a comedic gang boss in Johnny Depp’s latest comedy Mortdecai, Chinese elements are becoming more common in foreign movies.

For many foreign filmmakers, Chinese elements are frequently used to help movies appeal to Chinese audiences and bring in box office earnings in one of the world’s biggest movie markets. In Y 2014, Chinese movie lovers spent more than CHY 30-B at the cinema.

The Big Q: apart from huge box office takings what else can China contribute to the global movie industry?

The Big A: filmmakers and critics to the 5th Beijing International Film Festival have many ideas.

Rob Minkoff, director of Oscar-winning animation The Lion King, said Chinese culture was fascinating to foreign audiences. He offered the movie Kung Fu Panda as an example in which the Chinese culture, especially martial arts, attracted audiences from across the globe.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and a co-Founder of DreamWorks Animation SKG, (NASDAQ:DWA) said Kung Fu Panda was created many years ago “out of our love for Chinese culture rather than consideration of business”.

“China can offer something more than martial arts,” said Stafan Laudyn, director of the Warsaw International Film Festival.

With a long history, China has tons of stories about its thinkers, philosophers, poets and painters, which provide a treasure trove for filmmakers, he said.

Famous Chinese film critic Zhou Liming agreed.

“Chinese mythology, folklore and legends could be readily accepted by foreigners if told in a proper way,” he said.

Disney’s animated film Mulan is derived from Chinese ancient poetry. French movie, the Prince and the 108 Demons, or les 108 Rois-Demons, is an adaption of the classic Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh.

At the film festival, Tom DeSanto, American film producer and screenwriter, announced that he was planning to make a trilogy based on Chinese classic novel the Legend of Deification. It was a legendary story about the decline of Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) and the rise of Zhou (1046-256 BC)

“We are building a connection…Let’s cooperate, let’s create things together,” he said. “So that the next generation, our kids will know about the heroes of Chinese faces and the devils of Chinese faces.”

An increasing number of Chinese actors and actresses appeared in foreign movies. Andre Morgan, co-founder of the oldest independent production company in Hollywood, the Ruddy Morgan Organization, believes China is home to many talented young people.

During her 50 yrs in Hollywood, Lisa Lu, 88 anni, who starred the Last Emperor and the Joy Luck Club, witnessed the changes of Chinese actors and actresses.

“In the past, Chinese could only play a minor part in Hollywood movies as a restaurant owner or laundress,” she said. “Now their roles are more diversified. They are characterized as hard-working with special skills and Chinese cultural background. ”

Lu believed that those with opera or martial arts background find it easier to be accepted by foreign filmmakers and audiences.

Perhaps the best-known Chinese Kung-fu star was Bruce Lee, who is still the idol of many. Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu also impressed foreigners with their action performances.

More Chinese are joining them. Chinese faces even appeared in the Resident Evil, Transformers and X-Men series.

China is also investing heavily in the film industry overseas.

Last June, Chinese conglomerate Fosun International became shareholder of US media company Studio 8. In Y 2012, Dalian Wanda Group bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) for US$2.6-B. It has become world’s largest cinema chain operator and has held talks with Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF).

By the end of Y 2014, China has signed contracts with the governments of eleven countries, including France, Great Britain, Italy, South KoreaSpain, to make films together.

“Chinese people are becoming more and more passionate in film making,” said Mr. Katzenberg. Development of film industry has reached a Golden period, he added.

Stay tuned…


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