Written by: FFT Webmaster | February 29th, 2012
China, potentially the biggest market in the world as its cinema structure expands in the coming decade, has agreed to significantly increase market access for U.S. movies. Vice President Joe Biden himself was involved in the negotiations to open up the traditionally closed Chinese market, which had limited international intervention in order to protect its own indigenous industry and to keep “incendiary” ideas out of reach of the broad Chinese public. “The agreement announced today will allow significantly more job-supporting U.S. film exports to China and provide fairer compensation to U.S. film producers for the movies being shown there,” the White House said.
China will permit 14 premium format films (IMAX, 3D) to be exempt from the 20 film import quota, which remains in place. More significantly, the box office share U.S. studios earn from receipts will increase to 25% from 13%. Overall, this move will more than double the number of American films that will be released into the Chinese marketplace, where the government controls the distribution and exhibition of films. Another development worth watching is the (slow) rise of independent studios and theaters that are receiving licenses from the Chinese government, which may allow for even more American product to come into the country. The overall trade agreement still does not deal with major issues of piracy and intellectual property rights, which are not protected under current Chinese law. And, of course, there is no clue if this means that the independent sector of the American industry will greatly benefit, since the focus of the agreements are for studio releases only. However, with the growth of a film festival circuit inside China, newer forms of independent distribution and the marketing potential of social networks and the internet, there should be a significant impact for indie films amongst the younger Chinese audience that is curious about more “edgy” films coming from across the seas.