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Internet platforms provide US viewers with new access to Chinese film productions

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-06 09:30

Maybe in the near future, popular American superheroes like Spiderman and Batman will team up with their Chinese counterparts on Internet broadcast platforms for American audience.

"I like Jian Bing Man very much," said Adam Presser, vice president, international at Warner Bros. Entertainment Tuesday at the Chinese American Film Festival Co-Production Summit in Los Angeles. "It is a movie about somebody who wants to help his friends, that is the same thing you see in American stories."

The story of Jian Bing Man is about a disgraced actor struggling to regain his reputation. He found the meaning of true friendship during the process.

With more and more films and television programs accessible on increasingly prevailing video streaming platforms, more and more Chinese productions are available to American audience.

"The computer age is changing everything, it is a new communication age," said Brian Goldsmith, co-chief operating officer of Lionsgate at the 2016 US-China Film and TV Industry Expo held on the sidelines of the summit.

"Internet is the future," said Simon Sun, executive vice president of Le Vision Pictures USA, adding that there is great potential in online release.

"If you look at the US film market, Netflix and Amazon are having a huge impact on it. Maybe in the future, film makers will abandon the theatrical release and go for Internet release directly," Sun said.

For Chinese productions to gain access to the US market, "the Internet could serve as a very good platform since it is easily accessible and global," said Yang Xianghua, senior vice president of iQiyi, one of China's online video portal sites founded by Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine.

The Chinese hit TV drama Empresses in the Palace was aired on Netflix in 2015, the only Chinese TV series available on the video streaming website.

Although it seemed to be a good start, some insiders believed that it may not be the best choice for Chinese productions to enter the American market.

"I think the right way for Chinese film makers is to look for those very specific websites that cater to the Chinese American market," said Shane Maidy, vice president of MediaLink LLC at the expo. "Those platforms are more likely to license content from Chinese film producers for release."

"The audience on Netflix and Amazon are mainly Americans who are used to the American way of storytelling," Yang agreed with Maidy when talking about the differences between Chinese and American ways of storytelling.

He said that the Chinese version of Empresses in the Palace has 76 episodes while the American version on Netflix was re-edited to only six episodes. "The Chinese way of storytelling has a much slower pace which I do not think mainstream American audience will enjoy," he added.

Therefore, "those specific websites may be a better choice for us."

"Although they have fewer subscribers compared with Netflix, they are our target audience and are interested in Chinese productions," said Yang.

Both Maidy and Yang said that at least right now, the major target audience for Chinese productions in the United States is Chinese Americans.

Besides emphasizing the importance of platforms, both Chinese and American film makers believed that the key for any movie to reach more viewers is good storytelling.

"The reason why Hollywood does not release Chinese movies is lack of confidence," said Sun. "We need to find out what touches American audiences. The release platform is important, but the bottom line is to tell a good story."

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