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.

Popular on Variety

“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.

More Film

  • Cocoon of Stone

    Japan’s Wowow Makes Move Into Theatrical Releasing (EXCLUSIVE)

    Japanese pay-TV leader Wowow is to expand into theatrical releasing. The company made its theatrical buying debut this week at the Berlin Film Festival’s accompanying European Film Market. With linear channels and a movie-driven on-demand service, Wowow is already one of the leading consumers of movie content in Japan, and boasts 2.8 million subscribers. These [...]

  • Stormtroopers'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' film

    What Disney’s CEO Shake-Up Means for Its Movie Business

    After rocking a quiet Tuesday afternoon with news of leadership changes at the very top of the Walt Disney Corporation, attention has turned to respective divisions at the Hollywood superpower — and to what the side-stepping of Bob Iger and ascension of new CEO Bob Chapek might mean for the future. This includes Disney’s Goliath [...]

  • Jeremy Renner

    John Ottman Hosts Jeremy Renner, Michael Keaton, More at 'Aiding Australia' Benefit

    Film editor and composer John Ottman, who won an Oscar for “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 2019, hosted members of the film, television and music communities at the “Aiding Australia” charity dinner and concert held at his West Hollywood home on Sunday evening (Feb. 23). The benefit raised funds to help in the recovery of fire-ravaged Australia, [...]

  • Eric Bana The Dry

    Film News Roundup: Eric Bana Boards 'Mike the Bike' Motorcycle Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Eric Bana and Melissa Leo launch movie projects, Paradigm names four agents, Michael B. Jordan is being honored and Hilary Swank’s “Fatale” gets a release date. PROJECT LAUNCHES Eric Bana’s Pick Up Truck Pictures and Robert Connolly’s Arenamedia have secured rights to the “Mike the Bike” motorcycle story. Bana will [...]

  • A still from Miles Davis: Birth

    Film Editor Lewis Erskine on Finding the Rhythm for Miles Davis Doc 'Birth of the Cool'

    On-the-beat editing for the documentary “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” comes courtesy of Lewis Erskine who brings rhythm to the images apace with that perfect flow of the jazz icon’s horn. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and earned a nomination at the NAACP’s 2020 Image Awards for outstanding documentary [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial and Verdict

    European Industry Buoyed by Weinstein Verdict: 'Things Have Irrevocably Changed'

    Global film and TV executives, including “Elizabeth” producer Alison Owen and “Shakespeare in Love” producer David Parfitt, have spoken out about Harvey Weinstein’s guilty verdict, calling it a “seismic” victory that will bring about immutable change. Monday’s long-awaited outcome to the U.S. trial, which saw Weinstein convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape, has been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content