×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shanghai: China Studio Chiefs Debate Winter Chills and U.S. Rivalry

The Shanghai International Film Festival pulled off the impressive feat of assembling leading executives from seven of China’s top film studios. Their discussion focused on the problems that have recently beset the production sector and the industry’s relationship with Hollywood.

“The film industry achieved great things in 2018, but it was also the year that the industry received most criticism from society,” said Yu Dong, founder, chairman and CEO of Bona Film Group. “Our directors, actors and company were all criticized. The tax examination at the end of the year shook up the industry. We all had so many grievances, we all felt wronged.”

Chinese tax authorities last year intervened in the film sector, following accusations made at movie star Fan Bingbing. They ordered companies and individuals to fully declare their earnings, and to cease some previously permitted tax avoidance structures. The move – which netted some $1.7 billion of back taxes – caused an abrupt disruption of film production, changed relations between producers and talent, and caused investors to take fright.

“It was the year that the supply of capital went into winter hibernation. Half of the publicly-listed film companies saw their market valuations fall. Eight film companies had their market values cut in half,” said Yu. “We had to adapt to new market conditions, adapt to new film topics, and change our ways with casting as well. The market is cold and we’re losing our audience.”

“Morale is very low now. There is an acute drop in production numbers as everyone is sitting on the fence, watching. We need to rebuild morale and faith. Audience needs to rediscover its faith in Chinese film. We need capital support,” said Wang Changtian, chairman of Enlight Media.

Huddling for warmth was a recurring theme of the seminar. “Nowadays, movies aren’t made by one or two film companies, but by seven or eight. We’re all neighbors and brothers. To throw a good punch you need to bunch all your fingers together and make a fist,” said Jiang Ping, GM of China Film group. “The Rescue,” an upcoming action film with seven companies listed as producers proved his point, Jiang said.

While the speakers carefully avoided the specific term “trade war,” U.S.-China rivalry was another recurring theme.

“It is only a matter of time before we outdo the U.S., but that is not an objective,” said Fan Luyuan, chairman of Alibaba Pictures.

Bona’s Yu argued that Chinese studios should push harder into international markets. “China has had the biggest February box office in the world for the past five years, because of the Chinese New Year holidays. We should have the determination to play our movies in that at every Chinatown movie theater all over the world,” Yu said.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Charlie-Chaplin-and-Horse-Roy-Export-Co

    Carmen Chaplin to Direct ‘Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Director-producer-actress Carmen Chaplin is set to direct “Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World,” a theatrical documentary feature which will add a hardly-explored new facet to the creator of the Tramp, one of the most iconic cinema characters in popular consciousness, plumbing Chaplin’s Romani roots and heritage. Marking the first time that [...]

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

  • MARIANA-RONDÓN-MARITÉ-UGÁS

    FiGa Snags 'Contactado,' By The Team Behind San Sebastian Winner 'Pelo Malo' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s FiGa Films has picked up worldwide sales rights to “Contactado,” the upcoming feature by Sudaca Films’ Marité Ugás and Mariana Rondón, the duo behind San Sebastian 2013 Golden Shell winner, “Pelo Malo.” The Sudaca partners are attending San Sebastian to pitch Rondón-helmed project “Zafari” at the 8th Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum. Directed by [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' Lifts Above Competition at International Box Office With $26 Million

    Though “Ad Astra” was overthrown by the Crawley family at the domestic box office, Brad Pitt’s astronaut drama reigned supreme at the international box office. Directed by James Gray, “Ad Astra” launched overseas with $26 million from 44 foreign markets. The $80 million sci-fi epic debuted in North America with $19.2 million, bringing global box [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    Toronto's Biggest Deal Goes to HBO: A Sign of the Future? (Column)

    When it comes to how we’ll be watching movies — or, at least, watching serious dramas for adults — in the future, here are two stark and timely contradictory facts: 1. Last week, as the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close, a deal that had been in the rumor stage for a while [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content