Hollywood in China

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When high hopes for the box office for Pacific Rim were dashed when it only made $102 million domestically with a production budget of $190, it was China to the rescue where the film earned an additional $112 million.

When Warcraft opened in the US to horrible reviews and a box office total of $47 million, once again the Chinese moviegoers bailed it out to the tune of $221.

When Terminator: Genysis disappointed with $90 million stateside, it was the China total of $113 that rescued out.

Now You See Me 2 made $93 million in China, despite its lukewarm reception in the US.

These are just a few examples of why China is so attractive to the Hollywood film industry despite the restrictions they face and the hoops they have to jump through to get a film released in that country.  China has a strict protectionist policy favoring its domestic film industry and a stringent censor board which forbids certain themes and certain language, including references to Taiwan or Tibet and requires submission of a film’s script for approval before it allows the film to be released.  (Richard Gere’s films are never shown in China because he’s Buddhist and has an association with the Dalai Lama. Don’t look for him in a superhero movie.)

Release dates given are also unpredictable: the favored dates are saved for Chinese films, and often, once the censor has passed a film, there is not enough time allowed to properly market it before the assigned release date.  China has a population of almost 1.5 billion people and is the second-largest film market in the world after the US.  The number of movie screens in the country is growing by leaps and bounds.  About 39 Hollywood films were allowed in last year.  So, to get a piece of that very attractive pie, not only do movie studios compete for those few movie slots and make the necessary adjustments to mollify the censor board, they employ two other tactics to improve the odds of a China release. See more at HFPA.

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