More Governmental Regulation

Lastly (and perhaps most forebodingly), China is not a free country. There is no Google, no Facebook, and no unregulated internet searches. The government has a hand in the creation and exploitation of just about every industry, including ours. Supply and demand do not dictate sales and distribution, so stop thinking about movies that way.

The Chinese government has recently clamped down on the outflow of capital. Large Chinese players were buying up corporations around the globe and had to stop because the country was running out of currency reserves. It has derailed some of the big acquisitions and mergers that were on the table in Hollywood. China believes in what’s termed “soft power.” They already own over $1 trillion of U.S. government debt; they also own Legendary Entertainment, AMC Entertainment Inc. and a large piece of the Weinstein Company. The Chinese are gunning for a greater influence on popular culture throughout the world, and once they own all the major Hollywood studios, they will have it.

Because they have the capital to invest and the energy to produce quickly, many more foreign moviemakers will be working for and with the Chinese in the very near future. They have built and are building billion-dollar state-of-the-art studios, so with their lower cost of production and rich moviemaking history, it’s almost inevitable that China will become a major international foreign film production factory.

Many of us will be shooting our films in China, and better resources are slowly emerging. The website China Film Insider has a great legal section that steers indie producers through the perks and pitfalls of shooting in China. Film festivals are another resource for information on co-production and financing in China. One of the best forums is Bridging the Dragon at the European Film Market—a panel on the current state of the industry in China, and seminars on the practicalities of European-China co-production. Canada’s Whistler Film Festival also has a focus on China, with a pitching event for Chinese executives.

As I see it, Asura marks the beginning of a new era, combining international expertise with Mandarin films on an American studio blockbuster scale. Asura is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 on approximately 25,000 screens. Five years from now, the sequel could open on more than 50,000. You just might want to join me in learning Mandarin. MM

This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Spring 2017 issue. The Great Wall image courtesy of Legendary and Universal Pictures.

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