U.S.-China Film Summit packs in auds

The growing interest in the Chinese film industry was evidenced by the packed Writers Guild Theater at Tuesday’s U.S.-China Film Summit.

After opening remarks from industry leader Su Xiaowei, deputy director of SARFT, a panel made up of WME’s Elia Infascelli, Pandemonium Films’ Bill Mechanic, Xing Xing Digital’s Wang Lifeng, Polybona Film’s Yu Dong, China Film Promotional’s Zhou Tiedong, James Stern of Endgame Entertainment and Loeb and Loeb partner Stephen Saltzman discussed investment and filmmaking opportunities in China’s expanding movie industry.

“It’s growing very fast,” said Lifeng. “But compared to Hollywood it’s still very small.” While panelists offered few specifics on how Chinese cinema would gain a more competitive footing, Lifeng predicted that China would have the capabilities to produce a Chinese “Avatar” within the decade.

China has increased its number of theaters substantially and numbers 5,000 animation companies.

Highlights of the sesh included discussion of the fast-growing Chinese movie biz and co-productions with American filmmakers. While China has famously limited film imports, the government has recently opened its doors a little wider. China’s B.O. has grossed more than $1.4 billion this year, with hits including “Avatar,” “Inception” and local pic “Aftershock.”

The spike in box office shows how important the vast Chinese market has become for Hollywood fare, yet political wrangling remains an issue.

“I propose we leave politics at the door,” said moderator Peter Shiao, describing increased U.S. interest in China as “the beginning of a new spirit of collaboration.”

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