China’s Film Industry Is Gaining on Hollywood
Chinese audiences are growing, more theaters are being built, and the movies are getting better
Since mid-July, the biggest movie outside the U.S. hasn’t featured a Marvel superhero or dinosaurs from a revamped franchise or even an American action star. It hasn’t been an American film at all, but a Chinese animation/live-action fantasy, Monster Hunt, about a baby monster smuggled through ancient China. ...
With its mix of government-controlled enterprises and independent companies, the Chinese system looks very little like Hollywood. Longtime Hong Kong producers such as Edko regularly collaborate and compete with mainland giants Wanda, Huayi Brothers Media, and Bona Film Group, as well as the powerful state-owned entities such as China Film Group, which controls the importing and distribution of foreign films and produces its own. Internet companies Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and others are getting in on the action as producers and distributors.
All this investment and integration has led to improved scripts and greater diversity in an industry known for martial arts films and period spectacles. Today, feel-good fantasies such as Monster Hunt, which one Hollywood Reporter critic dubbed “a sentimental dollop of easily digestible moral storytelling,” succeed alongside comedies like Pancake Man, with Jean-Claude Van Damme as a villain. “There’s a growing commercial value and slickness to the Chinese films,” Pow says. ...
In what may be a sign of things to come, China’s monthly box office receipts for February passed those of the U.S. for the first time. Powered by the Lunar New Year holiday, the biggest time for moviegoing in China, February’s total box office hit $650 million, compared with $640 million in the U.S., according to Chinese research firm ENT Group.
I think the way this shakes out is, our fine American entertainment conglomerates will more and more play in the Chinese sand box, not the other way around.
The Chinese population is getting wealthier, day by day, and so Middle Kingdom companies are building new theaters, hand over fist, also constructing new production centers and making more movies that the Chinese audiences want to see.
And American entertainment execs know if they want to participate in this growing market, they have to play ball with the Communist party and its fellow travelers. They are happy to oblige. And even staunch anti-communists in congress have gotten the memo. The thundering right wingers who think the President is something that should have been flushed three days ago save their collective wrath for the Spanish-speaking communists in the Caribbean, who have no money and so are safe to jump up and down on (so far).
So Warners, DreamWorks and Disney (with Shanghai Disneyland!) are now building companies in China, the better to participate in all the lucre that is showering down. I mean, come on already. There are commies, and then there are commies you do business with because they make you rich.