×

Shanghai Festival Forum: Chinese Film Seeks to Raise Professional Standards

Greater professionalism within the Chinese film industry could lead to higher standards and greater overseas success. That was the unsurprising conclusion of the “Global Film Industry Value Chain Forum” held in Shanghai on Saturday on the eve of the city’s showcase annual film festival.

Speakers from China, the U.S., and Europe identified a need for improvement in screenwriting, production skills, and understanding of international markets as factors that could help Chinese movies to make a global breakthrough.

Ever the optimist, industry financier Bennett Pozil of EastWest Bank predicted: “In the next 12-18 months there will be a Chinese movie that has global pull. Chinese films are going to find their voice internationally,” though his reasoning was external to China and predicated on the growing importance of streaming and the consolidation of Hollywood studios.

“Disruption in the U.S. is good for Chinese films. P&A (print and advertising costs) are used as a barrier to entry to the U.S. market — $40 million is needed just to get you to the table,” said Pozil, suggesting that streaming firms can distribute Chinese films to worldwide audiences at a fraction of the cost.

China’s co-production supremo was less gung ho. “We’ve witnessed a surge in co-productions (between China) and the U.S. and with Europe. The box office (in China) for American films has been strong, that’s why U.S. productions are coming to China,” said Miao Xiaotian, president of China Film Co-production Corporation. “But success stories among co-productions are not that common. That’s down to cultural differences, and lack of knowledge of each other’s markets. Most of the co-productions that have succeeded are Chinese stories, and they have not done well overseas.”

The forum, presented by the Shanghai International Film Festival, Jiao Tong University, the Motion Picture Association and Winston Baker, was otherwise largely toothless and scrupulously avoided any controversies.

At no point was the U.S.-China trade war discussed. Nor was China’s 2018 change of film industry regulator, or Friday’s abrupt cancellation of the festival’s opening night film – despite a welcome speech by SIFF president Fu Wenxia. And no questions were taken from the audience.

The closest to a discussion of China’s abrupt film production slowdown since mid-2018 came from Shanghai Film Group boss, Ren Zhonglun. “Last year the film industry slowed down. As a result, it has become more rational, and calm. I hope that we are now pursuing a Chinese path, rather than remaining obsessed with overtaking the U.S.,” Ren said.

“We can be #1 in terms of volume, but we need to professionalize and accelerate the process of industrialization. We need to be humble and ready to learn,” said Chen Xugang, an academic from Beijing University.

“In the West film-making tasks are clearly defined. But Chinese studios are all over the place, everyone is multi-tasking,” said Bona Film Group’s Jiang Defu. “We need to specialize and focus on own strengths.”

Others focused their remarks on China’s unique characteristics. “The Hollywood studio system is an obsolete model for China,” said Perfect Village CEO Ellen Eliasoph. “China is fast-moving, and is digitized.”

“We are building a different ecosystem, based on multi-screen integration. (Movie producers) have good relations with streaming platforms. The speed of development brought us together,” said Jerry Ye, CEO of Huayi Brothers Pictures.

More Film

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content