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Chinese Government Easing Censorship of Movies Gradually, Says Bona Film Executive

With the film business booming in China, government censors are gradually easing up restrictions, a key Chinese film executive said Saturday.

“It varies from day to day because it’s a developing country,” said Bona Film Group chief operating officer Jeffrey Chan during a panel at the Producers Guild of America’s 7th annual Produced By Conference on the Paramount lot.

Chan, whose company has invested in Ang Lee’s “The Long Halftime Walk of Billy Lynn” and a Chinese-language remake of “Bride Wars,” said producers have become increasingly familiar with what will pass muster. “China is more mainstream than America in terms of what can pass,” he added.

Village Roadshow executive Ellen Eliasoph, who has worked extensively on Chinese projects, added, “It’s kind of ‘I know it when I see it.'”

She added that the process of script approval has loosened in China, but that it remained rigorous.

Chan also advised an audience of about 300 that production costs have been escalating. “If you’re looking to make a film in China because it’s cheap, don’t do it,” he said.

Panel members also urged producers to go with Chinese players who have a track record.

“If you are going to work in China, pick a partner who already has success,” said Bennett Pozil of East West Bank. “There’s only a handful of companies in China that have access to distribution.”

David Linde, who produced “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” with Ang Lee, and the recent “Flowers of War,” advised that finding a project for the Chinese market is difficult.

“It’s a really small hole to thread,” he said.

The panel was moderated by former PGA president Hawk Koch.

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