Murdoch praises China’s film industry

Mogul addresses Shanghai film fest

SHANGHAI — Rupert Murdoch praised the remarkable rise of China’s film industry, but said the Chinese biz was being held back because of restrictions on foreign movies and called for greater openness.

In an address at the Shanghai Film Festival, Murdoch said there was no other film market as exciting as China, which took $1.5 billion at the box office last year, 64% up on 2009. But, he added, restrictions on the import of foreign movies and distribution presented a challenge for Hollywood.

“The promise of investment is not being fully realized … because market access remains so restricted,” the News Corp chief said at a panel on Sunday.

Despite lengthy efforts to woo the Chinese leadership, Murdoch has had a tough time breaking into the country. Last year, News Corp. restructured its business to focus more on India amid the group’s longterm frustration about China.

Ren Zhonglun, head of Shanghai Film Group, said he expected greater cooperation between Chinese and overseas film companies in future.

Murdoch was in Shanghai accompanying his wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, who was presenting the Wayne Wang-helmed “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which she produced.

The nine-day fest kicked off Saturday and will screen 200 films at venues around China’s largest city and its financial capital.

Jim Gianopulos, head of Fox Film Entertainment, was also at Shanghai.

Among those present at the fest opener were Susan Sarandon, Matt Dillon, Jeon Ji-hyun and Mischa Barton, while Barry Levinson will chair the jury.

Also gracing the red carpet were Chinese A-listers Fan Bingbing and Li Bingbing and Chen Kun.

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