You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

For big B.O. in China, H’w’d must retool

'Subject matters...irrelevant to the locals' won't fly, warns Zheng

HONG KONG — Foreign companies seeking to crack China’s market are well advised to produce movies that are tailor-made to local taste.

So said China Film Co. Production prexy Zheng Quangang, who was speaking at this year’s Hong Kong Intl. Film and TV Market (Filmart 2000). His remarks came during a seminar Wednesday titled “China Film and TV Market After Its Succession to WTO.”

China Film is a major state-run company.

“A lot of people think once China joins the WTO, everything is going to change immediately. But the Chinese government, and the audience, are not as open (to changes) as other Western countries. China will only open its market gradually,” Zheng warned.

Cultural sensitivity training

“Many international film companies want to capture the China market but without taking into consideration the cultural, educational and historical background of the Chinese audience. Some subject matters are irrelevant to the locals,” he added.

Explaining the difference in taste between Chinese and Western audiences, he cited “The General Daughter,” which did well at the American B.O. but flopped in China.

“I also think ‘Shanghai Noon’ is a good movie but I don’t think its box office return will be very high in China because the movie is too Americanized. Chinese audiences also don’t really like the triad movies that have come out of Hong Kong,” Zheng said.

“Therefore, foreign companies have to consider making movies that will create interests among the local audiences, such as films on traditional martial arts,” he added

Despite his cautious tone, the senior exec did end on a high note, saying, “I am sure we can study the market, and share the profits, together.”

Big launch

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), this year’s Filmart opened with much fanfare.

A police brass band welcomed guests like director Wong Kar-wai (“Chungking Express”) to the opening ceremony with movie tunes including “Evita” and “Titanic.”

A total of 107 companies from 10 countries have joined this year’s event, with the number of Hong Kong exhibitors surging by 62% to 39.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Suro

    Lastor, ‘The Endless Trench’s’ Irusoin, Malmo Team for Mikel Gurrea’s ‘Suro’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Barcelona-based Lastor Media and Malmo Pictures have teamed with San Sebastian’s Irusoin to produce “Suro” (The Cork), the feature debut of Mikel Gurrea and a product of San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak program. The film stars Laia Costa, who broke through with Sebastian Schipper’s “Victoria” and also serves as executive producer, and Pol López [...]

  • Ane

    Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Develops Terrorism Drama 'Ane'

    SAN SEBASTIAN — For the second year in a row, the ECAM Madrid Film School has paired a number of up-and-coming filmmakers with various industry veterans for an Incubator program part of the school broader development arm called The Screen. For its initial edition in 2018, this Incubator selected five feature projects, putting the selected [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content