China leadership shift may benefit Hollywood

Xi Jinping may reform local film biz

BEIJING — China’s decision to select Xi Jinping as its new leader, following wheeler-dealing at the Communist Party congress in Beijing this past week, is likely to be good news for Hollywood.

Xi oversaw the country’s decision in February to relax its restrictions on foreign films, allowing entry into the country of 14 more 3D or large-format films per year, and a profit-sharing increase on those films to 25%, up from 13%, for foreign shingles.

What remains unclear is whether he will open up the world’s second-biggest movie market or keep focused on boosting the domestic biz by keeping a lid on overseas interests.

The all-powerful standing committee of the Politburo has been reduced from nine men to seven, and the streamlined version may be in a better position to work on reforms of various industries, including the film biz.

This could give him room to ease censorship, and loosen the rules for foreign ownership in the Chinese biz, but it could take a while before the direction of this administration is known.

Chinese B.O. is forecast to exceed $2.5 billion this year, according to data from biz watchdog the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT), and it has already chalked up $1.95 billion in the first three quarters of 2012.

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