Business / Industries

China's companies look abroad as film prospers

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-30 11:28

BEIJING - This year has been historic for China's film industry.

As of Dec 3, China's total box office sales for 2015 reached a record high of 40.05 billion yuan ($6.18 billion), according to statistics from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Notably, with the domestic film market flourishing, trademarks of some of China's major private film companies, such as Wanda and Huayi Brothers (HB), can be seen in several Hollywood blockbusters released over the year, including "Southpaw" and "Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation."

Having taken the country's film industry to the next level, it is becoming clear that China's film giants are looking to explore the global film market.

From films to companies

Chinese films have a long history of being exported. Some of them succeeded overseas with awards at prestigious international film festivals, while others drew a solid fanbase abroad.

Despite recently signed agreements with 13 countries on film co-production, many Chinese films failed to make a big global impact and most of the overseas audiences are actually Chinese, according to Luan Guozhi, deputy director of the film board of the SARFT.

In order to improve the situation in recent years, several major private film companies in China have joined Chinese films going abroad, seeking to cooperate with companies in Hollywood.

Companies like Wanda and HB have resorted to taking part in film production, investing and others, a report published by Peking University (PKU) on film industry showed.

For example, HB co-produced a couple of reputed films such as the thriller "The Gift" with major film companies in the United States. Alibaba Pictures, which is affiliated to e-commerce giant Alibaba, invested in the latest "Mission Impossible" movie.

"Hollywood is more keen on working with those in the film industry after all," said Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group, another major Chinese film company. "They know better how to make it in the business."

Strugglling to march on

Despite the initial honeymoon period for companies pairing with foreign counterparts, the future remains rocky.

"We still find it hard to make foreign audiences understand what's behind our films," Luan from the SARFT admits. "More co-produced films make it easier, but we need to have more say in it."

Luan is referring to the huge differences between Chinese film companies in terms of scale, experience, creativity and others.

According to the PKU report, these differences are what make Hollywood more hesitant when cooperating with some companies.

"Money is crucial, but that's just one part of the story," said Chen Shaofeng, the PKU professor who led the research. "A bigger international talent pool is also required as it's the basis of any cooperation between us and Hollywood."

As for the future, Yu Dong believed as Bona gets stronger with more money and talent, hard work will pay off and the foreign market will open further.

"I'll fly to Los Angeles more often in 2016, and hopefully our growing strength will play a big part," Yu said.

"Respect comes from the strength of our companies, which is even more significant than the cooperation itself," Chen added.

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