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Update on the Chinese Film Industry

Confucius

The WSJ published an interesting article last week stating that “cinemas confirmed that they have been ordered to pull two-dimensional editions of the Hollywood blockbuster as of Thursday to make way for a state-sponsored biography of the Chinese philosopher Confucius.”

Let’s be honest, this isn’t such an outrageous move. What a fantastic bio-pic idea! Though you have to be a touch leery of anything state-sponsored (see Frank Capra’s government funded propaganda series in 1943-44 on Why We Fight). However, an ancient philosopher, proponent of the Golden Rule, is hardly much to give the stink-eye about.

The article points out, however, there’s been much push back from China on foreign films entering their market. And in a triumph for foreign distributors, in December a World Trade Organization ruling said “China should open its market to foreign films by lifting the requirement that the movies be sold through a government-run monopoly…. The system allegedly discriminates against foreign films and limits foreign companies’ revenues. China has a year to change the rules or face tariffs from the U.S.”

I can’t imagine how smart it was removing 2D-Avatar from the screens to make way for Confucius. We’re talking big money here regardless of it’s foreign or not. Further, as of yesterday, Avatar is predicted to overtake prior Box Office record holder (and Cameron flick, Titanic).

In some haughty backlash against the request from Beijing to remove 2D-Avatar, some movie houses are giving it the middle finger and continuing showing the film. And why shouldn’t they? The government currently only allows a total of 20 foreign films a year to enter the Chinese market; this can only occur during slow seasons (you won’t find a foreign soul during the upcoming Chinese New Year, that’s for sure).

Stay tuned. Not only is this an interesting development for film distribution, but also the continual slap of the cheek between US-China protectionism.

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