Tensions show up at film festival
Despite a solid presence of U.S. execs and stars at the Shanghai Film Festival, there is a real sense that China no longer needs Hollywood’s favor and that the wooing is coming from the other direction — as evidenced by one local helmer’s personal attack on a U.S. major.China’s film industry and appetite for movies continues to grow exponentially, a real lure for filmmakers from the West. Film Bureau figures show that the average monthly box office between January and May this year was 1 billion yuan ($150 million), and Film Bureau director Tong Gang forecast this year’s B.O. take would hit 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). “This would make China’s film market the seventh biggest in the world, up from ninth last year,” he said. But there are differences in culture and style that make the East-West relationship tricky — and these emerged at a forum about greater cooperation between Hollywood and China. Helmer Feng Xiaogang, China’s most bankable helmer whose hits include “If You Are the One” and “The Banquet,” criticized the Weinstein Co., saying “Let me tell you about doing business with Harvey,” before outlining deals that involved some hard-nosed negotiating. Harvey Weinstein didn’t hear Feng’s comments. TWC’s topper arrived late for the forum, and left early, saying that he had a plane to catch, which appeared to ruffle feathers among those attending. His advice to the forum attendees? “There are no rules — be tenacious and try to look smart while you’re doing it.” The Weinstein Co. recently picked up North American and South African rights to upcoming Michelle Yeoh starrer “Reign of Assassins,” sold by Fortissimo Films.