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Time for Hollywood to embrace bilateral filmmaking

By Lance Crayon (People's Daily)    09:55, December 19, 2017

This year China's film industry proved it didn't need Hollywood while showing the world just how reliant Tinseltown dealmakers are in a country it doesn't understand too well.

Hollywood never had a choice but to accept China’s rules pertaining to film quotas and distribution revenue. But American studios should stop thinking in terms of “us vs. them” and instead find ways for “bilateral filmmaking” to happen.

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in 2014, he signed a co-production agreement where the two countries would combine their filmmaking talents and make movies together. During the Chinese New Year holidays earlier this year, “Kungfu Yoga” proved to be a win-win for both sides. When it was over the film was Jackie Chan's highest grossing movie of his career and a Top 10 money maker for China.

China's unofficial Hollywood blackouts are a win-win for both sides. The label is a smart marketing strategy that pays for itself in terms of attention and generating interest. US media carelessly jump all over the action shocked and appalled by a country that would deny its citizens Hollywood entertainment.

The second Hollywood blackout for 2017 took place during the last six weeks of summer. “Wolf Warrior 2” was released and became China's highest grossing film of all time. US money magazine Forbes said the $30 million film outperformed “Avatar” at its respective box office.

Beijing Culture, the production company behind “Wolf,” is now the hottest film company in China, and is giving back to China's film industry, pouring millions into a film fund rather than investing in US studio fare.

US media has forgotten last year's China's surprise gift to Hollywood, “Warcraft,” a film that shattered China box office records while tanking in the US. On opening day, a Wednesday no less, ticket sales hit the $42 million mark. It was a Hail Mary moment for a film that was almost shelved, and never to screen publicly again.

Going into movie awards season, Hollywood is poised to show its appreciation to China with an Academy Award.

China has never won an Oscar for filmmaking in any of the Directing or Best Film categories.

Contenders have been short-listed for the Short Animation category, with three Chinese directors on the list. But the film to watch is “Twenty-Two,” a documentary about China’s comfort women directed by Guo Ke, his second documentary on the subject.

As some of the biggest names in Hollywood continue to fall over allegations of rape, paedophilia, and sexual misconduct, the time is right, and not only for China.

China isn't known on the international mainstream film market for its documentaries, which isn't unusual for any country as documentaries do not make money and rarely secure distribution that includes a theatrical release. “Twenty-Two” is different, and necessary, and most of all, it's about time. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Liang Jun)

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