Exploring ways to work with China
The lure of Asia is strong and like everywhere else in the world, there are powerful arguments for co-production and co-financing as a way of getting into the market, especially into China, the fastest growing major market in the world.It is, quite simply, booming, taking in $1.5 billion at the B.O. last year and poised to take even more this year. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” grossed $22 million in its first three days in China, underlining how the country is a serious draw for Hollywood projects. Working with China and other Asian countries is a topic that will be explored by a panel at the Film Finance Forum at ScreenSingapore presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety. The plus sides of working on a project in China is the length of time it takes to set up co-financing and co-producing is shortened, and money looking for projects is abundant. “However, the film industry of China has a lack of creative scripts, strong directors and established artists, and competition between productions has led to the rapid growth of production cost,” says Chow Keung, co-founder and producer of Xstream Pictures. This means that ultimately producers find it hard to actually make any money, which means an even greater focus on co-production and co-financing as a key to avoiding too much harmful competition. Co-productions involving competing Chinese film companies are now very common. A problem with working in Asia is that there is little commonality between the various countries, and there is little coherence. Generally every country has its own very different rules about film imports and distribution of foreign product. Distribution networks are very localized and fragmented. There is so much money flowing around China right now that the challenge is to find an experienced producer so that unregulated cash does not choke a project, says Chow. “In recent years, film festivals and film funds are growing quickly in Asian countries, which provides more possibilities for Asian filmmakers in finding co-production opportunities within the region,” he adds.
Asia’s wired-up revolution | Co-production function