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Caps on celebrity pay must be permanent

China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-14 07:24
The military-themed movie Wolf Warrior 2 features Wu Jing in multiple roles, including director and star, and is set in an unnamed African country facing a civil war. The cast includes Chinese actress Yu Nan and US action star Frank Grillo, who is known for his role as Crossbones in Captain America movies. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Six major film production companies and three video websites issued a joint statement on Saturday in support of the administrative department's notice on restricting unreasonable remuneration for movie actors and actresses. Qianjiang Evening comments:

These companies, the main sources of income for actors and actresses, said they will implement the administrative department's notice word for word.

According to the notice, the total remuneration for all actors and distinguished guests for films, TV plays and internet shows must not exceed 40 percent of the total production costs. The payment to the main actors must not be more than 70 percent of the total remuneration for all actors, and the remuneration (before tax) for a single actor for one episode of a TV play or online show must not surpass 1 million yuan ($146,000), and the ceiling for the remuneration for one actor is 50 million yuan.

The nine companies' joint action is conducive to cooling down the sizzling market. That celebrity actors and actresses have in the past taken the lion's share of production budgets had a direct effect on lowering the overall quality of films, TV shows and internet programs.

This has led to the chasing after stars, rather than the development of good stories or high production values.

The size of the Chinese market and the foreign film and TV play import quota means the aforementioned distorted business model was conveniently self-sustainable, leaving the audiences as the victims and turning the otherwise creative industry into a game for capital.

Compared with the developed countries, China is still weak in self-regulation and discipline in the entertainment industry. For instance, there is not a strong guild for scriptwriters, which put the storytellers, who should be the backbone of films and TV shows, in a very weak position in the competition with actors for pay until the authorities intervened.

To make sure the changes become a normal state for the industry, rather than a campaign achievement, China's film companies should not only rely on the administrative department's notice but initiate institutional changes inside the industry itself.

  
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