Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, gave a warm but qualified welcome to recent expansion plans outlined by China’s Wanda group and said that Chinese influence in Hollywood is set to grow.
“China is the world’s fastest growing market. People (in Hollywood) are today making choices about what films to make, governed by that market. That’s how important it is,” said Guber, who was giving a keynote speech today at the China Now Summit in Century City. “We’ve changed the whole paradigm. It is now not just a foreign business, it is an international business.”
Having shared anecdotes about the early days of his tenure at Sony Pictures, when the studio was under different influences from various Japanese and German backers, Guber sounded gentle warnings for both Hollywood and China. The clear implication was that not all Chinese companies with global ambitions will succeed.
“There has to be symmetry between them, a pitch-catch-pitch relationship. There can’t be a one-way dialog,” he said. “When you see Wanda buying AMC Theaters, and building theaters in the U.S., they begin to understand how theaters work and how the global marketplace works, that’s a good thing.
“Chinese people in the motion picture industry need to know they have to be in the emotional transportation business,” Guber added. “That tells you that they are in the right place. But when people tell you that they are in the brick-and-mortar business, then I run. I get really frightened. That’s not the business. It’s where the business plays.
Speaking of China, Guber said, “The size and momentum of that market is breathtaking. The question becomes will the marketplace in China be open to more and more product made internationally, not just U.S. product. As long as there is matrimony, not patrimony, then it’s going to be an incredible thing.”