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Thread: Chollywood rising

  1. #16
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    Thanks PalmStriker

    Chollywood Rising is the name of my new print-only column in Kung Fu Tai Chi. I launched it in the last issue.

    I was torn between posting this on our RoA or RC threads but decided this needed a bump as my column is due.

    * October 7, 2010, 1:05 PM HKT
    The Continuing Return of John Woo
    By Dean Napolitano

    The recent two-part Chinese historical epic “Red Cliff” marked a *return to Asia for legendary Hong Kong director John Woo after more than a decade in Hollywood. With his latest project*—the martial-arts film “Reign of Assassins,” starring Michelle Yeoh as a Ming Dynasty-era assassin struggling to leave her past behind—Mr. Woo is again sticking to home turf. “The film business in China is growing—and growing fast,” says Mr. Woo. “There are good opportunities for all kinds of directors.”

    Mr. Woo has inspired a generation of filmmakers with his unique style of extreme action and *detailed storytelling in movies from Hong Kong (“The Killer”) to Hollywood (“Face/Off”). Last month, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the *Venice International Film Festival. “It’s a great honor,” he says, “but I wouldn’t say I had much *influence.”

    “Reign of Assassins,” opened in China last week and hits screens around the region this month. It was written and directed by Taiwan’s Su Chao-pin. Mr. Woo serving as co-director and co-producer.

    Q. What do you like about working in mainland China?

    A. There are so many talented young people in China. They have great passion, and they love to learn. That is one of the reasons why I came back to make “Red Cliff.

    Q. How does working in China compare with the U.S.?

    A. There are so many meetings in Hollywood. You have to make compromises. I feel free working in China. We have one meeting to talk about the budget and we go ahead and do it. But we still need to learn so much from Hollywood.

    Q. What’s your role?

    A. I see myself as a bridge. I *always try to bring in the good things from both sides. We can learn from each other.

    Q. What’s the future for the Hong Kong and mainland China film industries?

    A. I think they are merging into one. Hong Kong filmmakers need a bigger market. Hong Kong and mainland China people have *different lifestyles and cultural backgrounds, but it’s nice to see them work together to create something new.

    Q. What’s next for you?

    A. I go where the work is interesting—for the moment that’s China and America. I have three projects developing in Beijing and three in Hollywood. I love work. I don’t want to stop.
    On a side note, look at what happened to China's remake of High School Musical.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Flying Tigers

    Woo vs. Cruise? Interesting...very Chollywood vs. Hollywood...

    Tom Cruise vs John Woo For 'Flying Tigers'
    By MIKE FLEMING | Thursday October 7, 2010 @ 7:01pm EDT

    EXCLUSIVE: John Woo and Terence Chang might well be getting off the tarmac first with their WWII saga Flying Tigers. But New Regency, 20th Century Fox, and Tom Cruise are still fighting the good fight on a rival project that carries the identical title. They've hired Kirk Ellis to rewrite a draft of Flying Tigers that was done by Cruise's Valkyrie scribe Christopher McQuarrie and Mason Alley. Both films are based on the story of the volunteered fighter squadron formed by General Claire Chennault to help the Chinese fight against the Empire of Japan before the United States entered WWII. The aging Chinese planes were no match for the superior Japanese forces, until the volunteers arrived in American-made P-40 War Hawks. The two squadrons flew side by side, in fighter planes emblazoned with the gaping tiger's teeth logo. After Pearl Harbor, the Flying Tigers became an effective squadron in the U.S. Air Force. Jeff Greene is producing.

    Cruise has long wanted to play a pilot in a period war movie, and has been attached to several WWII aviator pictures. He's always got multiple offers, and I'm told reliably that despite reports, he is not attached to the Warner Bros script El Presidente. He's obviously not taking part in the Flying Tigers movie directed by his Mission: Impossible 2 helmer Woo, who with Chang have mounted a Hollywood-China joint production with China Film Group as the lead Chinese financier. They expect to shoot next spring, and signed a deal for the footage to be remastered for the IMAX Experience. My experience on these races is that whether it was The Last Samurai (a race Cruise won) or Alexander the Great, once a picture makes it into production, the other one gets shelved.

    Ellis won two Emmy Awards for the HBO miniseries John Adams, writing 7 episodes of the mini.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    It's all about the 4th to the last paragraph.

    China National Day box office hits $42 mil
    Week-long holiday a winner for "Detective Dee"
    By Jonathan Landreth
    Oct 9, 2010, 10:44 PM ET
    BUSAN, South Korea -- China’s movie ticket sales during the recent National Day holiday rose 12% over the same week-long period last year to reach 280 million yuan ($42 million), led by audiences flocking to see director Tsui Hark’s "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame."

    “Dee,” from distributors Huayi Brothers, stars Hong Kong actors Andy Lau and Carina Lau and Chinese actress Li Bingbing. The film has grossed 180 million yuan ($27 million) since its bow on Sept. 29, just before the Oct. 1-7 holiday.

    Also strong during the period was "Reign of Assassins," from directors Su Chao-pin and John Woo, which sold tickets worth 30 million yuan ($4.5 million), according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency, citing Liu Hui, deputy general manager of Beijing-based UME Huaxing Cinema, one of the nation’s largest theatrical circuits.

    Ticket sales of 50 million yuan ($7.5 million) over the holiday pushed "Inception" up to a China gross of 400 million, making it only the fourth import ever to pass the $60 million mark.

    Box office takes of this size have become possible in China only in the last 18 months as the nation’s growing middle class develops a movie-going habit at the hundreds of new multiplexes going up around the country.

    Three other Hollywood blockbusters also grossed $60 million in China since early 2009, "2012," "Transformers II," "Avatar."

    As with these films, it was the state-run China Film Group, the nation’s de facto monopoly importer, that distributed “Inception.”

    In March 2011, China is supposed to allow greater overseas participation in the distribution of copyrighted cultural content, including movies, to be in compliance with a Dec. 2009 anti-protectionist ruling at the World Trade Organization.
    More on Dee & RoA.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    Korea is what? Kollywood?

    This could have gone on our RoA thread, but given the buzz, RoA is now figuring to be a major factor in the rise of Chollywood.

    10-11-2010 10:20 여성 음성 듣기 남성 음성 듣기
    Jung looks to China beyond Hollywood


    Korean heartthrob Jung Woo-sung, right, and Michelle Yeoh in a scene from John Woo's "Reign of the Assassins." Su Chao-bin co-directed the film, which is showing at the ongoing Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival, before opening in theaters nationwide on Oct. 14. /Courtesy of SBS Contents Hub

    By Lee Hyo-won

    As Asia’s leading cinema event, the Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival (PIFF), whose 15th edition opened Thursday, most appropriately showcases the latest trends, including most notably the ever-expanding influence of Sino-cinema.

    Similarly, superstar Jung Woo-sung has looked to China for his much anticipated overseas debut: He stars opposite Michelle Yeoh in the John Woo-powered epic “Reign of Assassins,” which is featured in PIFF’s non-competitive section Window on Asian Cinema.

    ``Hollywood is not my final destination,’’ Jung told reporters Tuesday in Seoul after the press preview. While local actors such as Jun Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun), Rain or Jang Dong-gun have knocked on Hollywood’s door, So Ji-sub made his overseas debut in China with Zhang Ziyi.

    ``In Hollywood, Asian actors can assume lead roles continuously only if they master martial arts, like Jet Li or Jackie Chan… But I do have small hopes of becoming a noted actor in pan-Asian regions,’’ he said.

    This isn’t his first project to be fully based in China. He played the lead in Hur Jin-hon’s ``A Good Rain Knows,’’ which is set in Chengdu and co-stars Chinese actress Gao Yuan-yuan.

    ``Reign of Assassins,’’ co-directed by Taiwanese writer-director Su Chao-pin (``Silk’’), premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month. ``Mr. & Mrs. Smith relocate to ancient China in the dazzling martial-arts epic,’’ according to the Hollywood Reporter, and indeed Yeoh and Jung play an ordinary married couple, each unaware the other is a world-class assassin. Guns, bombs and other modern spy gadgets are replaced by elaborate wire tricks and sword-swinging, while being peppered with dashes of comedy and romance.

    The 37-year-old said it was a great pleasure working with Yeoh.

    ``When I first heard about the casting, it’s true I felt a little pressured but I didn’t mind the age difference,’’ he said about his co-star, who is 11 years older.

    ``Ms. Yeoh is a respectable veteran actress and world-class star but she is extremely humble. I thought she was a beautiful actress who is aging with grace. I was the only foreigner on the set and so she paid a lot of attention and care, to make sure I wasn’t uncomfortable.’’

    Working in a foreign language, however, was a challenge. ``I was worried whether I would sound awkward to native Chinese speakers, but I’m glad to hear it sounds OK,’’ he said, when a reporter complimented his pronunciation. ``The romance is central to the film, and it was really important to deliver the lines with feelings of affection. I think I mastered the Chinese lines naturally while working with Ms. Yeoh.’’

    Starring in a Chinese martial arts movie, moreover, proved to be a great adventure. ``I always carried around a sword,’’ he said. ``Hong Kong cinema has adopted Hollywood-style system, and so it’s much more advanced than domestic filmmaking. We filmed for 12 hours every day and took mandatory breaks once a week.’’

    During PIFF, ``Reign of Assassins’’ will show Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m. at Lotte Cinema Centum City. It will open in theaters nationwide on Oct. 14. Distributed by SBS Contents Hub.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #20
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    More from PIFF

    Fresh records being set at Chinese box office
    Thursday, 14 October 2010


    The John-Woo produced 'Reign of Assassins' has been searching for international distributions deals in Busan this week.

    The Asian cinema industry has gathered for the 15th Pusan International Film Festival here this week and while there's been plenty of pomp and fanfare, one bit of news trickling in has stopped everyone in their tracks.

    The Chinese presence here has been impressive, from the films screening as part of the festival program to the media pack that has come to see the likes of director Zhang Yimou and actress Tang Wei.

    Organizers said going into the event that China's growing presence as a film market itself was an important consideration and with box office figures from the country just in, that's looking like a pretty smart statement.

    The talk of the town has been that China's National Day holiday - a week-long celebration that ran from October 1 to 7 - collected a record 280 million yuan (30 million euros), which is a year-on-year rise of 12 percent.

    Leading the way were two all-star productions which have been searching for international distributions deals in Busan this week - Tsui Hark's actioner Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame and the John Woo-produced Reign of Assassins.

    Tsui's film - starring Hong Kong's Andy Lau and Carina Lau - has now taken around 140 million yuan (15 million euros) since opening on September 29, while Woo's film, featuring Michelle Yeoh, took 30 million yuan (3.2 million euros).

    The Hollywood thriller Inception has now topped 400 million yuan (43 million euros) after picking up 50 million yuan (5.4 million euros) during what the Chinese know as "Golden Week."

    Detective Dee also continued to rule in Hong Kong over the weekend ending October 10, picking up US$312,296 (223,822 euros) for a total now of US$1.1 million (788,000 euros), while in Japan the film about a dive rescue team, Umizaru 3, picked up US$6.5 million (4.6 million euros) and has taken in almost US$70 million (50 million euros).
    It's all about Dee & RoA now, isn't it?
    Gene Ching
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  6. #21
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    Nice OT article

    Hollywood chasing China's Great Wall of cash
    By Ronald Grover and Michael White
    5:30 AM Saturday Oct 23, 2010

    Han Sanping is a big fan of actor Will Smith. After entertaining Smith in Beijing two years ago, the chairman of China Film found a different way to keep up with Smith's film-making efforts.

    State-run China Film contributed US$5 million ($6.7m) to help finance a remake of The Karate Kid, produced by Smith and starring his son, Jaden.

    Han's mogul turn was a hit. The film, distributed by Sony's Columbia Pictures, grossed more than US$356 million worldwide and was a hit in China. For Hollywood, always a dream factory powered by other people's money, China offers huge potential as a funding source and a market.

    On September 26, Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment, a Hong Kong-based film company, paid US$25 million for a 3.3 per cent stake in Legendary Pictures, maker of The Dark Knight.

    Hollywood executives are even taking meetings with Chinese toy companies eager to take their creations to the big screen.

    "It's a largely untapped market," said Clark Hallren, managing partner at Los Angeles-based financial advisory firm Clear Scope Partners.

    "There appears to be great promise and a tremendous amount of capital. Where those in search of capital once focused on the Middle East, the same dynamic is occurring with China."

    The deal-making to date has been more a trickle than a waterfall.

    Chinese investors weighed bids for Miramax and debt-plagued MGM when those studios went up for sale in the past year, without biting, said attorney Schuyler Moore, a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in Los Angeles.

    Their activity may pick up, as Chinese officials become more comfortable with the ways of Hollywood.

    "Chinese investors are very sophisticated and have been contemplating the kinds of investments they want to make," said Charles Paul, a longtime Hollywood executive and a senior adviser to investment bank Centerview Partners.

    Paul negotiated the 1986 agreement with the Chinese government that opened the country to limited imports of foreign-made films. He travels to China every six weeks to meet potential investors.

    The Chinese government hopes to gain the technical and creative know-how to build its film industry.

    In the next three to four years, the number of screens in China will increase to about 13,000 from 8000 today, according to John Wilmers, chief executive officer of Ballantyne Strong, makers of digital movie equipment.

    The US has about 39,000 screens. China is the largest non-US market for Imax's big-screen theatres, with 37 built and an additional 59 scheduled by 2013. In 10 years, China may be the largest exhibition market in the world, said Richard Gelfond, CEO of Mississauga, Ontario-based Imax.

    "They want to be market leaders in producing films," said Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, which made The Karate Kid mostly in Beijing.

    The Chinese are using their financial relationships to get teaching moments whenever they can. The Columbia crew, for instance, showed the local team how to more quickly upload film from daily shoots to be viewed online, Belgrad said.

    That level of involvement sets Chinese investors apart from others who have come to Hollywood offering cash, said Clear Scope's Hallren.

    "I don't think this will be the next case of intelligent people investing money in unintelligent ways," Hallren said.

    What China possesses already is plenty of capital for the right project. Sheng Boyu, a 30-year-old real estate developer, put up US$50 million to help finance Double Lives, a film about a modern-day treasure hunt, starring Pierce Brosnan, being filmed in China, according to reports.

    "There is money if you know how to navigate the landscape," said Dan Mintz, CEO of Beijing-based Dynamic Marketing Group, which distributes and markets American- and Chinese-made films in China. Mintz said he raised US$100 million in China, "and we could go higher" to invest in films made or distributed there.

    The obstacle, he said, is that the government favours Chinese-made movies and continues to impose a limit of 20 foreign films a year that can be shown in the country.

    With Chinese investors. some films can reach the market without counting as part of the 20-slot quota.

    And there may be other benefits: When Mintz released The Founding of a Republic, a film his company financed with China Film Group, he said the government ordered rival films out of many mainland theaters.

    China's potential has sent deal-makers descending on Beijing. Deutsche Bank AG has stepped up its efforts in China to focus more on entertainment deals as well.

    Still, investing in Hollywood hasn't always turned out well for those writing the checks.

    "Some will benefit from smart and knowledgeable advisers," said Amir Malin, founder of private equity firm Qualia Capital and former CEO of film studio Artisan Entertainment.

    "Others will be taken on an endless merry-go- round of premieres and empty financial returns."
    I was just talking with someone who has contacts inside the Smith family. They were saying how Will Smith couldn't catch a break in promoting Karate Kid. Oprah would only let them on her show if she got the whole family. Perhaps KK was being snubbed out of Hollywood's trepidation of Chollywood?

    I've heard from a lot of people that our July Aug 2010 cover story was the only major coverage they saw for the film on the newsstands. I'm rather proud of that.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
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    The tiff @ TIFF

    You've probably heard about China pulling out of TIFF over some Taiwan dispute. THR offers a great overview of Chollywood now.
    TIFF Offers Its Own Look at Booming Chinese Film Industry
    7:52 PM 10/24/2010 by Jonathan Landreth
    Chinese film officials heralding a cinema revival not seen since the 1930s.

    With Chinese film officials boasting that domestic ticket sales will overtake Japan's to make China the world's second-largest movie market in the next five years, moviemakers from the Middle Kingdom are flying their flag high at the Tokyo International Film Festival and its film market here this week.

    Japan's total box office gross in 2009 was 206 billion yen ($2.54 billion), according to the Motion Picture Producers' Assn. of Japan, while China's Film Bureau tallied 2009 ticket receipts at 6.2 billion yuan ($910 million), a 44% year-on-year jump.

    With two Chinese dramas in TIFF competition this week – Li Yu's "Buddha Mountain" and Zhang Meng's "The Piano in a Factory" – the question of what kind of movies will score in China's new marketplace was a hot topic.

    With Hollywood tentpoles like "Avatar" and a raft of locally made films and Hong Kong co-productions of increasing quality lighting up China's theaters, Chinese ticket sales soared 86% in the first half of 2010. Now, official estimates show sales hitting $6 billion by 2015. (U.S. 2009 box office gross was more than $9 billion).

    Despite the fact that Chinese films accounted for 56% of the box office gross last year, the two top-grossing movies of 2009 were U.S. studio pictures -- "2012" ($67.5 million) and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($63 million) -- followed by state propaganda pic "The Founding of a Republic" ($61 million).

    Already the world's second-largest overall economy, having overtaken Japan earlier this year, China and its middle class are in the throes of a cinema revival not seen since the 1930s, a boom that is causing a rush to build more multiplexes and attracting the world's attention. And whereas Japan's market has long been saturated with state-of-the-art multiplexes, China will build another 1,500 cinema screens this year, raising the total to 6,000, then doubling it again to 12,000 by the end of 2015, according to the China Film Producers Assn.

    Each of these new Chinese theaters means more tickets sold. "Avatar" jump-started the action for China's new exhibitors in 2010, grossing $204 million in China alone and helping to push box office receipts to $726 million in the first half of the year, up 86% from a year earlier, according to Tong Gang, director of the film bureau at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

    But all China's grosses are not entirely due to a swelling in the size of the audience, which analysts estimate remains steady at about 200 million filmgoers. Much of the growth comes from those filmgoers' getting richer and developing a cinema habit that's allowing exhibitors to hike the cost of tickets to offset the cost of building nearly three new screens a day, mostly in second- and third-tier cities.

    A regular Chinese movie ticket averages 35 yuan ($5.26) but a 3D ticket can cost 80 yuan ($12) and an Imax film -- such as Feng Xiaogang's "Aftershock," the current all-time domestic box office champion, at over 660 million yuan ($99 million) -- can run as much as 150 yuan ($22.53) per head.

    All this building suggests that Chinese movie ticket prices will only continue to climb. To fill those screens and meet the demand of China's consumers, 500 films will be made this year, up from 80 or fewer in 2002. Despite China's strong taste for the Hollywood films -- long viewed illegally on pirated DVDs and via Internet downloads -- Beijing caps the number of imported films allowed to share in a percentage of their own gross ticket sales to just 20 a year.

    Officials at SARFT, which tracks the country's box office and monitors what's appropriate for Chinese audiences, say that homemade small- and medium-budget films are the answer to keeping the moviegoing going. Recently, Huaxia Film Distribution Co., a cousin of the CFG, agreed to distribute 18 homegrown films, including Zhang Yimou's "Under the Hawthorn Tree."

    Beijing's calls for small films aside, Hong Kong co-productions are leading the Chinese-language charge to reach Mainland moviegoers, with films such as Huayi's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" by Tsui Hark grossing 180 million yuan ($27 million) during the recent National Day holiday period. Tsui is now directing Jet Li in "The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate," a $35 million, 3D remake of a martial arts classic that began shooting outside Beijing this month.

    Another Hong Konger who migrated north to seek his fortune is "Bodyguards and Assassins" producer Peter Chan, now directing the martial arts mystery "Wuxia" starring Donnie Yen in Yunnan Province. Chan and We Pictures will unveil first footage of the film, co-starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei, at the American Film Market in November.

    With Hong Kongers firmly established in the mainland, Hollywood studios are homing in. Where 10 years ago it was Sony Pictures and five years ago it was Warner Bros. leading Hollywood's China charge, now it's Fox and Disney working on their co-production chops.

    Fox International Prods. and partner Huayi Brothers Media grossed more than $19 million off the $2 million spring hit "Hot Summer Days." Now the U.S. studio's recruited "Bourne Identity" director and producer Doug Liman to help present Beijing-based director Wuershan's debut $1.5 million feature "The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman," due out Nov. 25.

    Huayi also helped Disney produce a Chinese version of the hit franchise "High School Musical," transported to a Shanghai college. The film was Disney's third film in China in four years. Critics said Disney's attempt to make stars of an unknown cast flopped when a misdirected marketing campaign failed to raise interest among Chinese consumers demanding star power.

    It's against this competitive backdrop of meteoric growth and Hollywood jockeying that France, New Zealand and Singapore all signed film treaties with Beijing in the last six months in moves to establish toeholds, too. Russia, Britain, India and Belgium are all also negotiating with Beijing.

    The Holy Grail for producers from these smaller moviemaking countries would be a piece of something like John Woo's 2008 "Red Cliff," which the Hong Kong director with a decade of Hollywood credits co-produced with money from China, Japan, the U.S., Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The third-century war epic based on a story well-known across Northeast Asia, gross $47 million in China, $53 million in Japan and $9 million in South Korea.

    But not every co-production can be a "Red Cliff" and Woo, who's about to start shooting his biggest picture yet, the Sino-US WWII buddy movie "Flying Tigers," says he can make the film with money from the CFG alone if no Hollywood studio wants to pony up. (Fox is making its own picture about the Flying Tigers' founder, U.S. Army Air Corps Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault).

    Like Woo, other Chinese film veterans are feeling new confidence. People such as Yu Dong, CEO of Beijing Poly Bona Film Distribution and its co-production arm, Bona International Film Group, are just as often reaching out to Asian neighbors as they are flying to L.A. In June, Yu signed a co-production agreement with Korean powerhouse CJ Entertainment, the company that in 1995 put $300 million into a revamped DreamWorks.

    The first project Bona and CJ are working on together is a Chinese remake of a Hollywood picture, director Chen Daming's "What Women Want," starring Gong Li. And Bona's got its hand in another Hollywood remake, this time in English: hit maker Jan de Bont is directing Zhang Ziyi in the classic tale of Hua Mulan, made famous outside China by the 1998 Disney cartoon.

    But since not every China co-production can be a "Karate Kid" -- in which Overbrook, Sony Pictures and CFG paired a big Chinese actor (Jackie Chan) with a cute American kid (Jayden Smith) against a Chinese backdrop (The Great Wall) -- the pressure is on to find stories that will appeal to China's audience. After all, "Karate Kid" was a near flop in China after censors muddled the story by cutting the Chinese bully kid characters and approving release for a weekend right before key Chinese school exams. Meanwhile, outside China, director Harald Zwart's $40 million picture has grossed $334 million worldwide, including $176 million in the U.S.

    Since the U.S. market is still more competitive than China's, yet China is where the growth is, finding the right story for Chinese viewers is key, just as it is in Hollywood -- but the pressure to get that story right is even greater in China.

    "The difference in China is that there's only the box office, no ancillary revenues," said Arnie Messer, president and COO of Phoenix Pictures, the U.S.-Sino co-production company he and "Shanghai" and "Shutter Island" producer Mike Medavoy founded in May with partner Jonathan Shen of Beijing-based Shinework with a view to co-producing. "This very much rewards good films," Messer said. "The explosive growth has drawn out a lot of investors who are now seeking a way to the right stories that will allow them to get a piece of this phenomenon."
    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    Someone else saying "Chollywood"

    I jumped on the Chollywood-term bandwagon early, titling my print column that when it launched in July August 2010 issue, and I'm not sure it's taking. I'm always reassured when I hear someone else using it.
    Hollywood, Bollywood, Chollywood?
    Ok, so Zhang Yimou's remake of Blood Simple wasn't exactly the greatest and to say Disney failed with their Chinese take on High School Musical when reportedly, only one person showed up to their Beijing screening, is kind of an understatement. But despite such an abysmal track record, the dream is still alive for big studio execs.

    Although China still trails the US in box office sales, the market is growing as the wealthy become more regular movie-goers. Ticket revenues rose more than 30 percent annually between 2004 and 2009, from $219.6 million to $909 million.

    Lots of dough, and Hollywood wants it.

    Since Beijing only allows the distribution of 20 foreign films a year, American production companies are trying to curry favor under these restrictions by creating more China centric movies like The Karate Kid and Shanghai.

    Not only are there more movies being set here, but joint ventures with Chinese film companies is becoming the norm. Just last month Beijing based Chengtian Entertainment acquired a 3.3 percent share of Inception producers Legendary Pictures.

    Television is also getting in on the action. Gossip Girl, despite its risque nature, could soon see a Chinese equivalent, sure to be retooled with a whole lot less-if any-sex, and an asian Michael Scott may also make his debut as The Office comes to China.

    It's a slow migration, but Hollywood seems to be inching closer east.
    user-pic
    By Jessica Li in Arts/Entertainment on October 11, 2010 6:00 PM
    Gene Ching
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  9. #24
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    Fox

    a dated article, but notable...
    Fox gets teeth into Chinese movie market
    By Romain Raynaldy (AFP) – Oct 9, 2010

    LOS ANGELES — Media giant Fox is celebrating after joining fellow majors by producing its first film in Mandarin, as it battles for a slice of an exploding Chinese movie market.

    The Fox International division was created in 2008 to "make local films all over the world, and to focus on markets that were growing, or that already have big established local products," said its head Sanford Panitch.

    "And China being the fastest-growing market in the world, and 50 percent of the product in China being local, it was a great opportunity for us to be able to participate in making Chinese film," he told AFP.

    Fox is not the first to test the Chinese movie waters -- Warner started in 2004, and has been followed by Sony and Disney, which is developing a Chinese version of its teen megahit "High School Musical."

    The Fox division is already active in 10 countries: China, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Spain.

    But it only produced its first Mandarin-language film, "Hot Summer Days," this year.

    The movie, which opened in China in February and tells the stories of a series of young Chinese couples in three towns during one hot summer, made 20 million dollars in China,

    "For our first Chinese movie it was an extraordinary success," said Panitch.

    Stanley Rosen, a professor at the University of Southern California's East Asian Studies Center, said the highest-earning films of all time in China have all come out in the last two years.

    They are led by James Cameron's global blockbuster "Avatar," which took nearly 200 million dollars in China, followed by Chinese film "Aftershock" and American movies "2012" and "Transformers 2".

    "The main thing the studios are interested in, I would say, is the market inside China, with American movies," he added, noting that the number of movie theaters in China is exploding, with 1,000 new ones opening this year alone.

    But a major problem is that China only allows 20 foreign films to be distributed in China per year.

    This has led to the production of Chinese-language movies by the US majors -- or bilingual English-Chinese productions which are geared to both western and Chinese audiences.

    While films like "High School Musical" and "Hot Summer Days" were never going to run into trouble with Chinese censors, that cannot always be taken for granted.

    World War II movie "Shanghai" had problems this year with its portrayal of Japanese characters "because they were too sympathetic, which is something the (Chinese) government didn't like," said Rosen.

    "So they had to make a number of changes," he added.

    Fox International has already made its second Chinese-language movie: "The butcher, the chef and the swordsman," which is due out in China in November. A third is due to begin filming at the start of 2011.

    "It's a competitive market because there are a lot of Chinese producers and local Chinese studios making Chinese films," said Rosen.

    "So it's very active, but the good news is that China is so large that it has the ability to be able to accomodate everyone," he added.

    For Panitch, China also offers another kind of opportunity.

    "The exciting thing for us in China is working with new talents. We are making a point working with up and coming directors," he said.

    "Part of the opportunity for us is finding the next Ang Lee or the next Stephen Chow or the next great filmmaker that we may meet making a Chinese language film, but then we could ultimately have him make a Hollywood film."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  10. #25
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    More current...

    Hong Kong Production Funding Emerging from Unlikely Places
    10:32 PM 11/4/2010 by Karen Chu

    The pipeline is bursting with them – the potential blockbuster co-productions with their eyes on the Chinese box office that is nowadays counted in hundreds of millions of yuan.

    Emperor Motion Picture's 200 million yuan-costing December 2010 release Shaolin, starring Andy Lau and Jackie Chan, Media Asia's biopic Bruce Lee My Brother, due for end of this month, Peter Chan's US$20 million directorial outing Wu Xia, featuring Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro in the leads (for late 2011), or the 400-million-yuan 3D fantasy The Monkey King and the remake of A Chinese Odyssey, Filmko and Stephen Chow's different takes on the Chinese literary classic Journey to the West, These are among some of the eyeball-drawing upcoming titles that serves as examples of what is now called "Greater China films."

    However, in Hong Kong, new investors are surfacing and trying to capitalize on the atmosphere of diversity in the local marketplace, bringing with them new opportunities from unlikely places. For instance, the local charitable organization, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, has pooled its resources to create Merry-go-round, a drama co-directed by indie helmer Mak Yan-yan (Butterfly) and Clement Cheng, in celebration of the organization's 140th anniversary. All the more surprising is the venture into the film industry by the Hong Kong restaurant chain, Tsui Wah Group, which in collaboration with the production company T-Films, is producing two stereoscopic 3D animation features and a live action film.

    T-Films has secured a distribution deal with The Weinstein Company for the North American release of the company's debut US$8 million 3D animated feature Little Gobi, slated for release in December in Hong Kong, and China through China Film Group. The second 3D animated feature, Flying Hero, a US$11 million tale about a firefighting airplane inspired by the Mongkok building fire tragedy in August 2008, which took the lives of two firefighters and four civilians, is set for late 2011 release. Tsui Wah holds the rights thus the merchandising potential inherent in its animated output, with dolls and other merchandise distributed through its chain of restaurants. The company is also co-financing, alongside producers Charlie Wong and Peggy Lee, with HK$2.8 million government investment from the FDF, the US$1.5 million beach volleyball action comedy Beach Spike.

    To venture into animation with a backer outside of the film industry, producer Charlie Wong and T-Films founder Tony Tang took their lesson from the collapse of Hong Kong animation studio, Imagi. Established by animator Tony Tang, one of the co-founders of Imagi and director of Little Gobi, Flying Hero and Beach Spike, T-Films intends to tap into the market possibilities of truly economically-produced Hong Kong animation. That's what Imagi promised but failed to deliver after its US$60 million flop last year, Astro Boy, led to its demise.

    "Animation doesn't have to be so expensive," says Charlie Wong, who produces the upcoming T-Films slate. "If we can control the budget, the quality of the products can fare as well as those made elsewhere." Animation also travels well, Wong says. "There's little age and race limit with animation, so it can be sold across the globe. The market for it would be bigger than the mid-range dramas and romantic comedies that local filmmakers are focusing on." That said, the producer-director team is also behind Beach Spike, described by Wong as "Charlie's Angels with beach volleyball", that was made "to explore the middle ground for survival in today's local and international market."
    We're discussing all these films on their own independent threads:
    Shaolin, starring Andy Lau and Jackie Chan

    Media Asia's biopic Bruce Lee My Brother

    Peter Chan's US$20 million directorial outing Wu Xia, featuring Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro in the leads (for late 2011)

    the 400-million-yuan 3D fantasy The Monkey King
    Gene Ching
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  11. #26
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    Into those film archives

    A lot of those classics are really dated now. I know I've been waiting for Tower of Death on Blu-Ray...
    Posted: Fri., Nov. 5, 2010, 6:06am PT
    Twin nabs Fortune Star pics
    Catalog includes Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan pix
    By Mark Schilling

    TOKYO -- Tokyo-based distrib Twin has acquired 300-plus titles from the Chinese pic library of Fortune Star, the company announced on Thursday.

    Its first releases will be the five Bruce Lee classics "The Big Boss," "The Way of the Dragon," "Fist of Fury," "Game of Death" and "Tower of Death."

    Paramount Home Ent. Japan will bow the titles on Blu-ray on Nov. 26 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Lee's birth.

    Another major upcoming release is 24 Jackie Chan titles, also on Blu-ray, in December. This will be followed by VOD releases of more Fortune Star pics.

    The world's largest Chinese film library, Fortune Star offers more than Chinese 700 pics including those by helmers John Woo, Yuen Woo Ping and Ronny Yu, and films starring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

    Launched in 1988, Twin has "The White Ribbon," "Confucius" and "True Legend" on its upcoming theatrical slate.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  12. #27
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    There's a vid

    click the link.
    Hollywood woos China
    By John Boudreau
    jboudreau@mercurynews.com
    Posted: 11/12/2010 07:33:49 PM PST
    Updated: 11/13/2010 05:46:05 AM PST

    BEIJING -- Silicon Valley arrived here first, bearing technology and business plans. Now, Hollywood is swooning over this rising economic empire in the East.

    At a recent art gallery event of film industry glitterati, producer David Lee worked the crowd with Hollywood flair -- greeting friends and strangers with hugs, posing for photos, mingling with the champagne-sipping guests.

    "I want to be the Jerry Bruckheimer of China," said Lee, a former executive at the American film company Weinstein Co., referring to the prolific action blockbuster film and TV producer. As managing director of Beijing-based Xinhua Media, he has just completed a dark comedy, "Inseparable," that stars American actor Kevin Spacey but was financed by a local Chinese backer and shot in China. It will be released in China and the United States early next year.

    Many Western film executives once dismissed China and its tightly regulated film industry with a Hollywood brushoff -- "Don't call me, I'll call you." But now the mood is, "Let's do lunch." Lee and other film industry executives, actors and production crews have descended on China in search of the latest outsize opportunity.

    "Hollywood has become a really good friend of ours," said Jiang Defu, an executive with the powerful China Film Group, one of only two entities authorized to distribute foreign films theatrically in China. "I get 40 e-mails a day," said Jiang, who keeps a photo of himself posing with comedian Jimmy Fallon on the shelf of his office. "But I don't have time to reply to everyone."

    China is building state-of-the-art movie theaters at a breathtaking pace -- at least two screens a day. Within five years, it is expected to surpass Japan as the second-largest movie market in the world after the United States. China is also the new ATM for those looking for film financing at a time funding is hard to find in the United States, said Larry Gerbrandt, principal of Media Valuation Partners, a Los Angeles firm that studies the economics of the entertainment industry.

    "Hollywood is always chasing the money," said Lee, whose movie "Inseparable" will be released in China and the United States early next year.

    China will have 6,000 cinema screens by the end of the year, and 12,000 within five years, according to the China Film Producers association. During the first half of 2010, China's box office revenue soared by more than 80 percent to $726 million, according to government statistics. In the United States, which has nearly 40,000 theater screens, box-office receipts topped $10 billion last year.

    In China, "they have multiplexes that are as nice as anything you'd see in San Jose, if not better," said Jonathan Landreth, China-based correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter. "They just spring up overnight."

    But just as valley companies and other foreign businesses have discovered, the reach-for-the-moon opportunities in this nation of 1.3 billion people come with only-in-China problems. China may now be the world's second-largest economy, but the Communist government's rigid censorship policies create a minefield for filmmakers. And producing movies that speak to audiences in China and the United States -- two vastly different cultures -- is not easy, experts say.

    It will require filmmakers to pay attention to details -- films in the past have made such blunders as casting a Vietnamese actor in the role of a Chinese character, said Beijing-based director Chen Daming, who worked in San Francisco during the 1990s.

    "The world is smaller," he said. "You can't do stupid things anymore."

    But China's film industry isn't yet ready for prime time, according to former Bay Area filmmaker Ruby Yang, who relocated to Beijing six years ago.

    China is "the happening place right now in terms of commercial films, but not movies of substance," said Yang, who won an Oscar in 2006 for "The Blood of Yingzhou District," a documentary about children in the province of Anhui who lost their parents to AIDS.

    The industry, nonetheless, is dynamic and growing.

    "I've done more here in a year than five years in Los Angeles," said actor Russell Wong, who relocated to Beijing more than a year ago and is studying Mandarin.

    Not long ago, recalls director Chen, he received rude responses from Hollywood -- and one industry executive in particular -- to his plot pitches centered on Asian characters.

    "Now, this guy is in China trying to raise money and he's super nice to me," said Chen, sitting in front of two flat-panel monitors while putting the final touches on his latest movie, "Thief of Hearts," a remake of the Mel Gibson romantic comedy, "What Women Want," starring Gong Li and Any Lau, two of China's biggest stars.

    Chen is asked out to dinner by the likes of Keanu Reeves. He has drinks with representatives from the William Morris Agency. He has to bat away offers coming his way from across the Pacific.

    —‰'High School Musical' came to me (to make a Chinese version of Disney's teen musical series)," he said. "I said, 'I don't do movies like that.' "

    By coproducing movies with Chinese companies, Hollywood is looking to get around government restrictions that allow only 20 foreign films a year to share in box office receipts -- a policy ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization, though it's unclear if anything will change. Chinese filmmakers, meanwhile, would like greater access to the global market.

    "Hollywood provides the best access and distribution to the rest of the world," said former Fremont resident Rong Chen, now running the film and entertainment arm of game developer Perfect World, producer of the comedy "Sophie's Revenge," starring Zhang Ziyi.

    "We want to learn more about Hollywood," said China Film Group's Jiang. "But we also want Hollywood to know more about Chinese culture."

    Co-productions do not mean Hollywood can sidestep the government's censorship, which extends beyond political issues. Censors flag anything from smoking -- they don't want outsiders to think Chinese are smokers -- to issues of prostitution, filmmakers say.

    "They want you to paint a very positive picture of China," said Hollywood producer Terence Chang, who just completed three films in China. "Nothing negative is allowed. That's why people are making period films. Pre-communism is safe."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #28
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    I'm surprised we don't have a Tai Seng thread

    We had one, but it was deleted. So this can go here:

    TAI SENG Poised to Launch New Media and Broadcasting Channels to Meet Demand for Multicultural Content in 2011!
    November 18, 2010 07:03 AM Eastern Time

    SAN FRANCISCO--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Tai Seng Entertainment, the leading distributor of Asian films and TV series in the USA, today announced its upcoming plans to launch several major new channels to meet the demand by broadcasters and new media platforms for quality multicultural programming.

    According to television executives speaking at the 24th Annual NAMIC conference in New York recently, “With the continued growth of the multicultural population in the U.S., the television industry should be producing more quality, diversity-themed television programming that reflects the views and culture of multicultural audiences.” (Multichannel News, 9/15/10)

    With over 20 years as a leader in Asian film distribution in the U.S. and a library of nearly 100,000 hours of premium content including motion picture and TV dramas, Tai Seng is both well positioned and uniquely qualified to meet the ever increasing demands for culturally relevant programming by the national and regional broadcasters.

    Tai Seng has a history of helping to popularize Asian stars such as action heroes Jackie Chan and Jet Li, matinee idol Chow Yun Fat, and Bond girl Michelle Yeoh by circulating their movies in America well before each became household names.

    “Tai Seng’s vision is to bring the best in Asian entertainment to all ethnicities in the USA, not just our loyal audiences of Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.,” said Tai Seng President Bernard Soo. “Our long term goal is to market Asian films to the general mainstream U.S. market, by providing a broader access to what some of the top Hollywood directors and producers have known for years – Asia’s directors, from Hong Kong to Japan to Korea and all points in between, are creating some of the most exciting and captivating cinema in the world.”

    With nearly 16 million Asian Americans in the U.S. alone, the company is confident that its market will not only continue to grow vertically, but horizontally as well with the continued popularity of its content among the General Market, Latino and Urban audiences.

    “Tai Seng stands ready to lead the way again in content aggregation from Asia to U.S. audiences by consistently providing our content distribution partners with the best premium content available and the highest subscriber growth opportunities,” said Mr. Soo.

    For more information about Tai Seng visit www.taiseng.com.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  14. #29
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    3 cinemas per day

    Digicon Special: "China is building 3 cinemas per day!" - Alex Law
    By Money Sharma, November 19, 2010 - 15:10 IST

    Alex Law Excerpts from the keynote address by famed Hong Kong filmmaker, Alex Law, whose recent release, Echoes of the Rainbow has received critical acclaim worldwide. Alex was speaking at 12th Digicon Pre-Conference "Asia Contents Forum", running at the sidelines of Inter BEE conference in Tokyo.:

    Echoes of the Rainbow is about my childhood. In fact, 90 per cent of what you will see in the film is all about what happened to me in my childhood. I have made sure that I shot the film in actual locations where particular incidents in my life had happened. While choosing locations, I was very particular that they were most suitable for the story. It all depends on the story and not the market.

    Authentic Locations
    The reason why I chose the '60s as the background of the film was because that's actually the time when it happened. Somehow, the '60s are a very nostalgic age, the golden age for some who stayed in Hong Kong at that time. All the people born after the war will cherish the film. The love that the people shared in those times was unprecedented. The entire neighborhood would dine together. My mum would only cook one dish because all the rest was taken care of by our neighbors. Even when I returned from school to find my home locked, I could easily walk into my neighbors house and stay as long as I wanted.

    Asian Film Market
    The film has not been released outside of Hong Kong yet but we are in talks with a Japanese distributor. I look forward to the day when there will be a pan-Asian market for films from not only Japan, but other Asian countries too. In Asia, we have our drawbacks. But we also have our advantages. With the spread of the internet, the popularity of small filmmakers is increasing, and not only in their parent countries but the neighboring countries as well. Moreover, we have seen, in the recent years, a number of co-productions among countries. So, the market of such films is not limited to the producing countries but goes beyond that. When I showed Echoes of the Rainbow in the Berlin Film Festival, to my pleasant surprise, I was approached by an Israeli company for a co-production!

    Chinese Potential
    A film commission in Hong Kong sponsors 35-40 per cent of films that cost up to USD 2 million. All regions in China have government subsidies meant for films. But there is a lot of latent potential in the Chinese film market because filmmaking is ultimately an investment. Sooner or later the film industry should be able to stand on its own feet. But the government has to jumpstart the process. The mainland Chinese market is huge and undiscovered. In China there are 2,500 screens whereas in the U.S. there are over 15,000, with only one-tenth the population of China. In many provinces of China there are no cinemas at all. Right now the number of cinemas being built per day in China is three. Hence, there is a huge potential.

    American Dominance
    American movies have dominated the world film market over the past 20-30 years. But I can see a future where Asian movies will dominate the Eastern hemisphere. The development of the Chinese market is almost there. I am just hoping that it is here to stay. Americans are very good storytellers, whereas Asians are on the other end of the spectrum: they like to listen to stories. But we need to make improvements in the distribution, technical know-how and the studio system, not so much in the stories. Each country should produce its own stories. Movies should be made if they touch the filmmaker. One always wants to come up with a story that has never been told. But all the existing stories have already been told.
    So let's do the math: 15,000 - 2,500 = 12,500. 12,500/3 = 4166.66. 4166/365 = 11.41 years. Given that equation, Chollywood overtakes Hollywood sometime in 2021.
    Gene Ching
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  15. #30
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    highly doubt it. hollywood movies have global apeal, mainly because they star people of multiple races, onlytime you see a non chinese in a chinese film is as a villian. unless that changes i highly doubt china will ever generate the amount of money hollywood generates. ever. hollywood including tv and movies generate over 100 billion dollars a year. is china even at 1 billion yet?

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