Hollywood knocking on China’s door

Beijing, July 2 (IANS) As Keanu Reeves, star of Hollywood blockbusters like “Speed” and “The Matrix”, visits China to promote his directorial debut “Man of Tai Chi”, an increasing number of Hollywood films are beginning to feature more amd more Chinese elements.

“Man of Tai Chi”, an action film, is scheduled for release July 5. The story is set in Beijing and centres around Chinese martial arts. The cast includes Chinese actors Karen Mok, Chen Hu and Ye Qing, Xinhua news agency reported.

Industry observers believe that such films indicate a deeper integration of the Hollywood film industry in the Chinese market.

Paramount Pictures announced in May that “Transformers 4”, the latest in the “Transformers” sci-fi franchise, would be shot in China and feature Chinese actress Li Bingbing.

Action film “Iron Man 3”, produced by Marvel Entertainment and distributed by Walt Disney, came in a special edition for Chinese audiences, with three minutes of additional footage featuring Chinese actors Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing.

Though critics have questioned the significance of the added content, the movie turned out to be a huge box office success. According to China Film News, “Iron Man 3” raked in 110 million yuan (around $18 million) on its first day and has grossed 750 million yuan so far.

Zhang Huijun, president of the Beijing Film Academy, said Hollywood’s focus on China, including co-investment, shooting in China and China-themed films, reflects the industry’s recognition of China’s increasingly prominent role in the global scenario.

Statistics from the State Administration of Radio Film and Television released in January show that the total value of the Chinese box office has soared to 17.07 billion yuan, making China the second-largest movie market in the world, only behind the US.

Recent data by China Film News showed that as of May 9, the total box office on the Chinese mainland had reached 7.85 billion yuan, a sharp increase compared to the 5.68 billion yuan recorded around the same period last year.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said at a forum held in June in southwest Chengdu city that China will overtake the US as the largest movie market in the world in five years.

DreamWorks set up a joint venture with China Media Capital and other companies in April to expand its fast-growing ties to China. The company plans to co-produce “Kung Fu Panda 3” in 2016 and release the first animated film created independently by local team DreamWorks East in 2017.

However, the Beijing Film Academy president said Hollywood’s tactics to woo Chinese moviegoers was very limited.

“Chinese audience now prefer domestic films featuring daily lives, but Hollywood is only focusing on limited topics such as traditional Kung-fu,” he said.

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