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Thread: Chollywood rising

  1. #76
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    Flowers top 2011

    Well played by Zhang Yimou. I guess I have to see this now...
    Box Office Report: Christian Bale's 'Flowers of War' Already Top-Grossing Chinese Film of 2011
    3:55 PM PST 12/30/2011 by Pamela McClintock

    "The Flowers of War"
    The historical epic, directed by Zhang Yimou, has earned nearly $70 million in China since opening two weeks ago.

    Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War, with Christian Bale headlining, is doing big business in its home country, where it's already become the top grossing Chinese film of 2011.

    Through Dec. 29, the movie has grossed $66 million (400 million yuan) at the Chinese box office, where it's competing with Jet Li action pic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Flowers of War, about the Japanese invasion of Nanjing, opened Dec. 16.

    Until Flowers of War, the No. 1 Chinese film of the year was Beginning of the Great Revival, which grossed $62 million.

    Hollywood tentpoles are the top two earners overall -- Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed a massive $145.5 million in China, followed by DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Kung Fu Panda 2 with $92.2 million. Both films had the advantage of higher 3D ticket prices.

    Among other Hollywood movies, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides eared $71.8 million China, while Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 grossed $63.6 million.

    Flowers of War will pass Pirates this weekend, and has a shot at overtaking Kung Fu Panda 2.

    Costing $100 million to produce, Flowers of War is the most expensive Chinese production in history and was fully financed by Zhang Weiping's New Pictures Film Co. It's one of the first times that a Western actor has played the lead role in a Chinese production of this size.

    Bale's recent dust up with Chinese security guards when trying to visit blind activist Chen Guangcheng haven't hurt the movie. Bale attempted to met with Chen days after attending the premiere of Flowers of War in Beijing.

    Flowers of War is China's official submission for the Oscar for best foreign language film, and is being distributed in the U.S. by Chris Ball's Wrekin Hill Entertainment.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #77
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    Come to my room tonight for the audition

    Isn't that phrase on every director's text quick notes?

    Acting's school of hard knocks
    Updated: 2012-01-27 07:29
    By Liu Wei (China Daily)


    Extras clad in Qing Dynasty costumes take a break on a palace set in China's biggest film base in Hengdian, Zhejiang province. Photos provided to China Daily

    Young would-be actress finds that getting into the glamorous world of film is not an easy act. Liu Wei reports.

    "Come to my room tonight for the audition," was the only message she got - nothing more, just a simple text message.

    And it had Zhang Wenli thinking that maybe it was time to give up her dreams of being a film star.

    The year was 2006, and Zhang had worked for her third year as an extra in Hengdian, a small town in Zhejiang province, and China's largest film center. It has every kind of set imaginable - palaces, residences, old streets, different dynastic settings, and so on.

    Every day, producers and directors are at work on dozens of films or TV dramas with everyone, from the big shots, such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan, down to thousands of bit-part actors and part-timers, such as Zhang.

    She first went to Hengdian in 2004, as an 18-year-old dance student at a community college. At her school in Shandong province, 1,100 km from Hengdian, she'd heard endless stories about the town, from seniors who had worked there.

    She had long dreamed of being a film star since back when she was a girl, and now she found that she just couldn't wait any more. She pleaded with her parents and teachers, explaining that acting in a real film would teach her a lot more than reading books in school.

    Finally, she boarded a train to Hengdian with two classmates. The three girls didn't even know the journey would take 15 hours, but, with all the excitement, they didn't sleep a wink on the train.

    The joy and excitement didn't last long. The only lodging they could find was a 20-square-meter room, which they had to share. They walked around the town leaving their address with the actors' guild, and in the first week found nothing at all.

    Acting's school of hard knocks

    Then, just as they were about to run out of money, they found a notice stuck to their door asking them to come join a TV drama at 6:00 the next morning. The three girls laughed with surprise and hugged each other. But that first job turned out to be nothing more than just standing around with hundreds of the "emperor's maids".

    Then Zhang got a bit luckier and was picked out by the assistant director, who asked her to just say one sentence. She made four attempts at the 10 words and couldn't pronounce them correctly. The director gave up and asked her to count from one to 10. Then he said he'd have someone dub the part in later.

    Zhang was irritated and bravely pushed the director to give her a fifth chance. This time it was a success and she ended up with 40 yuan ($6) for the day, twice the amount her friends had made. And she thought she was now starting out on the path to becoming the next Zhang Ziyi or Gong Li.

    For the next two years, she got nothing but small roles with just a few lines.

    She tried to improve her acting skills, watching one film after another at the Internet cafes in town. She didn't have enough money to buy a computer.

    Looking back, she says, "Watching how an actor steals the show was the most important part of my self-study." If she got any role in a TV drama, she would use what she'd learned.

    At one point, she was playing a concubine who was standing by a table as the man and his wife were having dinner. The next take had the wife flying into a rage and slamming her bowl down on the table. The script had no description of Zhang's response, but she shivered dramatically when the bowl hit the table. The director liked it and kept the cut in the final version.

    By her third year in Hengdian, Zhang could earn about 4,000 yuan ($634) a month, but she didn't find her dream getting any closer.

    There were literally thousands of extras working in Hengdian, very few of them from the top list. Most had never even studied acting in school. At the same time, there were hundreds of film or drama school graduates flooding into the town and the industry every year.

    Once, while she was a stand-in for the supporting role in The Forbidden Kingdom, which starred Jackie Chan, Zhang met the star himself. Chan gave the bit-part actors some of his own brand of clothing, but the most useful thing he gave Zhang was a bit of advice: Being an actor isn't easy.

    "I began to regret quitting school so early," she says. "I'd hoped to learn more about acting and become a qualified actress."

    Soon, as she got a peek at the darker side of the industry, she found she might need more than just acting skills: She might need a hard heart.

    One director said he appreciated her talent and wanted her to star in his next work. Zhang was overjoyed and eagerly did what he asked her to do in his text message: go to his room at midnight for an audition. She ended up humiliated and outraged, but managed to escape.

    The third time this happened, Zhang sadly decided to give up her dream.

    "I'm not saying all actresses need to go through this experience to be famous, but things like this do happen and I'm just not tough enough to handle them," she explains.

    And, "I was an extra, without a diploma, and no outstanding skills or powerful friends in the industry. I felt helpless."

    She thought that working behind the scenes might at least give her something more "down-to-earth". So she made friends with some of the crew members, make-up artists, cinematographers and prop makers, and learned a lot.

    Then in late 2006 she found out that some college students were making a movie in Yunnan province and were looking for an assistant to the producer. She sent them an e-mail.

    The film was a bold attempt by a group of students who were a bit younger than she was and they soon became friends. The students liked her and didn't really care whether she was a veteran or not. The filming was more like an adventure that allowed young people to come together.

    Zhang made full use of this unusually precious chance and scouted around for actors and locations, negotiated with locals over room rents or the use of cattle, and coordinated the actors' and producers' schedules.

    "I was like a lunatic," she recalls with a laugh. "On the bus, on the streets, literally everywhere, I'd grab complete strangers I thought might be good in our film. Some got angry and some thought I was a bit crazy."

    For help, she turned to some friends she'd made during her Hengdian years. Some sent her samples of call sheets, others taught her over the phone or Internet about communicating with actors, producers and directors.

    For one week, her first meal of the day came after midnight and scripts covered her walls, her bed, and floor. Call sheets and scripts littered the place. After the filming finished, she got a second chance to work for a TV drama.

    And, she still watches a lot of films - on her laptop. Her focus has shifted to film budgets, flaws in production and design, and figuring out how the producer juggles the schedules of two lead actors.

    Her dream of becoming a big star may have ground to a halt, but Zhang's good at comforting herself.

    "I've seen Jackie Chan. Every step, every move he makes, he's surrounded by a dozen or more people. That's not an easy life to lead," she concludes.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #78
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    More on Flowers

    Flowers of War probably deserves its own thread. It's not MA-oriented but obviously a significant Chinese film.
    January 31, 2012, 2:26 PM HKT
    Flaying ‘Flowers’: An Example of Western Media’s Bias Against China
    By Yiyi Lu

    There has been a long and on-going debate between some Chinese and westerners on whether the western media are biased in their China coverage or not. As defenders of western media rightly point out, negative news and critical commentaries may displease the Chinese, but they do not necessarily amount to biased coverage. Besides, there are plenty of positive stories about China in the western media too.

    But the accusation of bias does not seem entirely unfounded. A case in point: Western media’s treatment of Zhang Yimou’s Nanjing massacre film “The Flowers of War.”

    When news came out that “Flowers” had failed to win a Golden Globe award and was not even shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in the best foreign-language film category, some Chinese said the result was just what they had expected given that the film had been described as an anti-Japanese propaganda in biased western media reports.

    On the issue of China’s dispute with Japan over the presentation of World War II history, there is a clear tendency for many western media reports to employ double standards, underplay the sufferings of the Chinese people during Japanese occupation and turn the coverage of the history dispute into attacks on the Chinese government.

    In a post entitled “The Flowers of War Brings out the Worst of Western Media,” Cfensi, a general news blog on Chinese entertainment, comments on some examples of tendentious western media reports about the film:

    Jonathan Landreth at the AFP skillfully uses the title “Christian Bale denies his Chinese film is propaganda” followed by the statement that the film is one of “a string of films and TV series from China promoting national unity against an evil Japan.” …he’s excellent at making falsehoods true – first make an arbitrary accusation, then make the accusation’s denial the headline, and finally affirm the accusation as fact without any evidence whatsoever.

    Laurie Burkitt and Tom Orlik at the WSJ…complain that “nuanced treatment of the Chinese characters is in stark contrast with portrayal of the Japanese as monochrome monsters.” Do these people not realize the immorality that comes from humanizing (aka: finding excuses) for rapists and mass murderers? Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason why we don’t expect films with good Japanese soldiers during the Nanking massacres, just like how we don’t expect there to be good Nazis in a Holocaust movie.

    While the Cfensi post may be too harsh, the comparison of “Flowers” with Holocaust movies is telling. Numerous Holocaust movies have been made that portray Nazis as evil incarnate, but one does not see western media describing them as anti-German propaganda that “lacks subtlety.” Yet, when Chinese films on the Japanese occupation during World War II come out, western media reports are often quick to deplore their portrayal of Japanese soldiers as “one-dimensional savages” and their “demonization of the Japanese army,” despite acknowledging that the Japanese army had committed many atrocities, including during the Nanjing Massacre.

    According to Cfensi, a number of western media outlets, including Variety, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian and CNN, also erroneously claimed that the Flowers of War was partially funded by the Chinese state, implying that the film was state-backed nationalistic propaganda. In fact, it only received a loan from a private Chinese bank.

    Accusing “Flowers” of being anti-Japanese propaganda or “one-dimensional” is but the latest manifestation of mainstream western media’s propensity to criticize China when covering the history of China’s fraught relations with Japan. Often, reports on Chinese protests over perceived Japanese attempts to whitewash its militaristic past are turned into warnings about rising Chinese nationalism deliberately fostered and manipulated by the Chinese government. Stories about new Japanese history textbooks that gloss over Japan’s wartime aggression become discussions of problems with China’s own history textbooks.

    For example, in April 2005, after protests broke out in China following the approval of new Japanese textbooks that whitewashed Japan’s wartime atrocities, AFP’s coverage contained the following:

    While learning materials in [Chinese] mainland high schools take special pains to outline Japanese aggression beginning with the 1874 invasion of Taiwan, China’s involvement in the 1950-53 Korean war is dismissed in one sentence.

    The Los Angeles Times said:

    China has criticized Japan in recent weeks for whitewashing its militarist history, focusing in particular on a junior high school textbook recently approved by Tokyo.

    “Yes, what Japan did in World War II is horrible,” said Sam Crane, Asian studies professor at Williams College in Massachusetts. “But the embarrassing fact for the Communist Party, and one that is not taught in Chinese schools, is that the party itself is responsible for many more deaths of Chinese people than those caused by Japanese militarism.”

    And the Financial Times offered its readers the following:

    For those seeking graphic if not necessarily balanced accounts of Japanese infamy, there is no better place to look than China…

    But China’s schoolbooks, carefully edited to ensure they do not contradict the official historical verdicts of the ruling Communist party, have their own conspicuous absences. Texts for middle and upper school students give great detail about the party’s resistance against Japanese oppression, but gloss over or ignore most of its less glorious moments. The brutal 1989 suppression of pro-democracy protests centred on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square is ignored.

    It is not that Chinese history textbooks do not have their own problems, or that western media do not have the right to discuss those problems. But there is an appropriate time and place for such discussions. To attack Chinese schoolbooks in the middle of reports about Japanese attempts to whitewash its history of invasion and occupation of other countries is morally dubious to say the least.

    Suppose, when discussing Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews, western media reports were to say: “Yes, the Jewish people suffered a great deal during World War II, but Israel has also occupied Palestinian territories and killed innocent Palestinian civilians.” They would cause public outrage and may even be accused of trying to make excuses for the Holocaust. Yet, it has been perfectly acceptable for western media to effectively say “Yes, Japan did horrible things to the Chinese, but the Chinese government did horrible things to its own people too.”

    Do we take this to mean Japan’s wartime atrocities in China are insignificant? Do the Chinese have no right to criticize Japanese textbooks?

    It is one thing for western media to be critical of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. It’s quite another to let their views of the CCP color their reports on the history row between China and Japan. Using criticisms of the CCP to divert attention away from the suffering of the Chinese people at the hands of Japanese militarists during World War II — and the refusal of some Japanese to fully acknowledge the past — and to do so consistently, this is what I would call biased media coverage.

    Yiyi Lu, an expert on Chinese civil society, is currently working on a project to promote open government information in China. She is the author of “Non-Governmental Organisations in China: The Rise of Dependent Autonomy” (Routledge 2008).
    Gene Ching
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  4. #79
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    Should have seen this coming

    I've been thinking the category II & III is China but that's actually an HK thing.
    Thu, 02 February 2012 03:52 AM (HKT)
    Bona to introduce movie ratings to China
    By Stephen Cremin

    Tue, 31 January 2012, 16:15 PM (HKT)
    Exhibition News

    Chinese cinema exhibitor Beijing Bona Starlight Cineplex Management 北京博納星光影院管理有限公司, a subsidiary of Bona Film Group Ltd 博納影業集團有限公司, announced yesterday that it will introduce its own movie ratings system.

    China does not currently have a nationwide film classification system and widespread industry calls to introduce one have not been supported by government agencies. Many ratings systems operating internationally are themselves industry-run.

    The announcement was made on Weibo, China's Twitter-like micro-blogging service. While the initial posts have since been deleted, Starlight's general manager Huang Wei (黃巍) has since clarified the chain's position in local media interviews.

    Huang stresses that the motivation is to help audience members make decisions about films that have already been approved for cinema exhibition by the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (SARFT) 國家廣播電影電視總局.

    He specifically emphasised the need to support children and elderly cinema patrons and stated that the system, whose details are still under discussion, will be modelled on the three-category Hong Kong system due to its innate simplicity.

    Jin Bo (金波), marketing director of Bona Cineplex (博納國際影院), stated that the in-house system — which could launch in late February — will only give guidance and will not enforce any age restrictions.

    There are signs that Chinese censorship has become more leniant in the past eighteen months, in what has proven to be a cyclical process over the past decade with SARFT reacting to films that have been perceived to cross a line.

    With no hard-and-fast rules, the degree of censorship is somewhat dictated by the willingness of producers and distributors to negotiate over requested cuts. Several key figures in SARFT are former film-makers who can be sympathetic to applicants.

    Examples of recent Chinese films with adult themes that might be age restricted in Europe and North America include JIANG Wen 姜文's Let the Bullets Fly 讓子彈飛 (2010) and LU Chuan 陸川's City of Life and Death 南京!南京! (2008).

    Film-makers that have come out in support of a classification system in the past include ZHANG Yimou 張藝謀, whose The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵 and Shanghai Triad 搖呀搖!搖到外婆橋 (1995) are both R-rated in North America.

    There are persistent claims that the introduction of a classification system in China would boost box office as it would broaden the range of films produced and exhibited, and help target the marketing of individual films to specific groups.

    For example, relaxed censorship has helped give birth to a local horror genre with Chinese cinemas currently screening bloody slasher Harpoon 驚魂遊戲 (pictured) starring Monica MOK 莫小棋 and South Korea's PARK No-shik 박노식.

    At a Beijing Screenings 北京放映 forum in Sep 2010, USC professor Stanley Rosen stated that surveys indicate that 90% of the Chinese population support the introduction of a local classification system.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #80
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    More kung fu films, I say.

    Chinese films struggle in world market
    CRI, February 14, 2012

    Chinese martial arts is globally known, and Chinese Kung Fu films have become the face of most Chinese cinema. But the country has also produced many other successful genres of films, most of which remain unknown to the world. What is the reason behind it?

    Bruce Lee, the late famous Kung Fu actor, sparked a major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West in the 1970s. His films elevated traditional Kung Fu movies to a new level of popularity and acclaim.

    According to the Box Office Mojo website, four Chinese Kung Fu movies including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Hero", "Jet Li's Fearless" and "Kung Fu Hustle" are in the top 10 of all foreign language movies from 1980 to present. Kung Fu movies are always the bestsellers of Chinese films in the West.

    But not all chinese movies are as successful. "Aftershocks", a film based on the Tangshan earthquake, was one of the highest grossing films in the Chinese market in 2010, but it only received about 63 thousand US dollars in America.

    Li Huailiang, dean of Comm. Univ. of China, said, "We should use western people's ways to tell Chinese stories. But in fact, we're not doing well on this point."

    The same year, another Chinese martial arts film "The Karate Kid", co-produced by China and the US, entered the international film market. The box office of this low budge film reached about 20 million US dollars abroad. In the film, a 12-year-old boy from Detroit moves to Beijing, and learns Kung Fu from a Chinese master for self-defense. This kind of story seems to overcome the barrier between different nationalities and warm people's heart.

    Zhou Tiedong, gen. manager of China Film Promotion Int'l, said, "Our movies should tell the stories about Chinese people, as human beings, which can arouse echoes among people all over the world."

    In 2012, the Chinese blockbuster "Flowers of War", directed by Zhang Yimou, was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in 84th Academy Awards, but didn't make the final shortlist. The country is getting closer, but to make an international mark, Chinese film makers still have a long way to go.
    I saw Aftershock. I'll have to see Flowers of War eventually.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #81
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    Po strikes again

    There's a vid if you follow the link
    FEBRUARY 16, 2012
    DreamWorks to Unveil China Deal
    By LAURIE BURKITT and ETHAN SMITH

    DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. is expected to disclose details this week about a planned production studio in Shanghai, a joint venture involving two Chinese government-backed media entities, according to people familiar with the matter.

    An announcement of the venture is planned for during a visit to Los Angeles by China's presumptive next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping, as part of this week's high-profile U.S. tour. Mr. Xi may attend a ceremony marking the studio deal, a person familiar with the matter said. The announcement could take place even if Mr. Xi doesn't attend, this person said, adding that the announcement could still be canceled for other reasons.

    DreamWorks Animation, based in Glendale, Calif., declined to comment.

    The potential partnership, and Mr. Xi's visit, comes as U.S. trade officials are seeking to resolve a dispute over movies that has essentially been at a stalemate since 2009, when the World Trade Organization sided with the U.S. in ruling that China should open its market to foreign films.

    The ruling sought to lift a requirement that foreign movies be sold through a government-run monopoly, which allows only around 20 foreign movies a year to be distributed in China, with box-office revenue split between a state-owned distributor and the producer. Additional films may be exhibited under financial terms less favorable to foreign producers.

    The U.S. has argued that controls discriminate against foreign films, limit revenues for the foreign film industry and fuel piracy. U.S. studio representatives have pushed China to increase the number of foreign films it lets in the country.

    "Kung Fu Panda 2" was the No. 2 grossing movie in China in 2011.

    China missed a deadline to comply with World Trade Organization rules in March 2011. Few industry insiders expect China to directly address WTO violations by allowing foreign studios to distribute directly through cinemas.

    Films that foreign studios develop with local partners aren't subject to China's quota, however. By linking with local partners, DreamWorks Animation would be following a path taken by other Western studios, which have been recruiting local business partners on both individual films and broader production initiatives.

    The DreamWorks Animation studio will tap as partners Shanghai Media Group, one of China's largest television broadcasters, and China Media Capital, according to one of the people familiar with the situation. DreamWorks' Chinese partners were identified earlier in a report by the Financial Times.

    Negotiations on the film dispute have been an uphill struggle for the U.S., which has had very little bargaining power with China.

    "The U.S. doesn't have the will to do anything to retaliate," said Stanley Rosen, an expert on Chinese films and a professor of political science at the University of Southern California. "Hollywood still thinks China is the only real expanding market in the world and doesn't want to lose out if and when China opens up."

    China's government, meanwhile, has been eager for its homegrown studios to learn from Hollywood's know-how so that it can make big productions and export the country's culture overseas. It launched earlier this month China Mainstream Media National Film Capital Hollywood Inc., a first-ever government backed film fund in the U.S. market to finance and U.S.-China co-productions.

    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, Carol Guthrie, said that the U.S. "continues to seek to address compliance issues in a way that achieves real and meaningful commercial goals such as getting more market access for U.S. films in China on commercial terms."

    The Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group that represents Hollywood film studios, declined to comment.

    China has been loath to change its film regulations as it looks to protect its domestic industry. The number of locally produced films shot up 50% in 2011 from a year earlier, to 791, according to media research firm EntGroup Inc. But Hollywood movies still dominate China's box offices. Five of the 10 top-grossing films in China in 2011 were U.S. productions.

    Dan Mintz, chief executive of DMG Entertainment, a 19-year-old movie studio headquartered in Beijing with offices in Hollywood, said the DreamWorks venture could help spur the Chinese market.

    "This is good for everyone," he said.

    The DreamWorks Animation facility would produce animated films specifically for China, where the company's "Kung Fu Panda 2" earned about $93 million dollars last summer.

    The nation's box-office revenue in 2011 climbed to about 13.1 billion yuan, or nearly $2.1 billion, up 28.8% from the 2010 level, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #82
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    Transformer Flowers

    More Hollywood films set for China
    By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
    updated 6:50 AM EST, Tue February 21, 2012
    Under the new U.S.-China deal, more IMAX or 3D films are being allowed into China.

    Hong Kong (CNN) -- In a boon for IMAX and movie-watchers in China alike, a deal struck between the United States and China last week raises the number of 3D, IMAX and similar enhanced-format movies released in China.

    China has remained mostly closed to Hollywood, with a quota of 20 foreign films per year, most of them being from the United States. Under the agreement, announced during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Los Angeles with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, 14 additional IMAX or 3D films would be allowed. Foreign film companies will also be permitted to take a 25% cut of the box office, nearly double the current 13%-17%.

    In a White House statement, Biden said the deal would support "thousands of American jobs in and around the film industry," adding that "Chinese audiences will have access to more of the finest films made anywhere in the world." Some 2.2 million Americans have jobs that depend on the film and television industries, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

    IMAX, which has 217 theatres open or contracted to open in China, hailed the move, saying in a statement Saturday that it was "also committed to bringing Chinese films presented in our format to the U.S."

    On February 14, the company said that its first quarter box office of the year was $55 million, up from $38 million during the same period last year, driven primarily by "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol," which accounted for nearly half those earnings. The Chinese film, "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate," rounded the top four with $3.7 million.

    Last year, Chinese box office revenue exceeded $2.1 billion, much of the revenues from 3D titles, the White House noted.

    The deal resolves film-related issues related to a 2009 World Trade Organization ruling siding with the United States. According to the ruling, China's measures relating to the importation and distribution of films, sound recordings, audiovisual home entertainment products and reading materials breached its trading rights commitments as a WTO member.

    Hollywood has been battling piracy in China, despite Beijing's closure of piracy websites, in no small part due to the limited access of U.S. films to Chinese screens.

    Allen Wan, head of production for Hong Kong-based Salon Films Group which has worked with Hollywood companies in Asia, was positive about the deal. "Chinese audiences can see more films from the U.S. properly, officially. And on the other hand, I think it will increase more opportunities for Chinese and U.S. film (companies) to cooperate together to produce more films."

    "The Flowers of War," directed by Chinese director Zhang Yimou and starring Oscar-winner Christian Bale, cost $100 million to make, the largest production made in China. The film, which is set during Japan's occupation of Nanjing and the 1937 massacre, was China's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Its executive producer is David Linde, CEO of Lava Bear Films and former chairman of Universal Pictures. (He was also executive producer for Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.")

    The movie has failed to connect with U.S. audiences, however. For the week of February 14, it was playing in six locations, down from 30 when it opened, with an average gross of $550 per location, according to Boxoffice.com. The film's overall U.S. gross during its four-week run? $213,792, at last count.

    On Friday, coinciding with the U.S.-China film deal, DreamWorks Animation announced a joint venture with China Media Capital (CMC) and two other Chinese companies to establish a China-focused family entertainment company, Oriental DreamWorks. "In addition to content creation, the joint venture will pursue business opportunities in the areas of live entertainment, theme parks, mobile, online, interactive games and consumer products," DreamWorks Animation said in its announcement.

    The venture will have an initial capitalization of $330 million.

    The Chinese companies will hold a 55% majority stake; DreamWorks Animation will hold about 45%, according to the announcement. On the agenda: "Kung Fu Panda 3," Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua cited CMC chief investment officer Li Huaiyu as saying in an exclusive interview.

    DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" was the top animated film released in China in 2008, according to the company. The sequel, which made $95 million at the Chinese box office last year, was second only to "Transformers 3," which brought in $170 million.
    They can't sell Flowers of War to audiences here, but we can sell Transformers there. Interesting turn of the tables that.
    Gene Ching
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  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    They can't sell Flowers of War to audiences here, but we can sell Transformers there. Interesting turn of the tables that.
    I don't think a movie like Flowers of War would have much appeal outside of China. I've never seen any of the Transformers movies, but I would assume that they're a lot more 'fun' than a movie like Flowers. I know if given a choice, I'd rather be entertained at the movies.

  9. #84

    New Chinese Film Rules

    John Scalzi wrote an article about the new rules about Chinese film imports and how it will affect the American film industry. Basically, expect to see more big budget Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films.

    However, a new film deal between the U.S. and China was announced last week. It does a number of things, including allowing for the creation of independent (i.e. not state-run) film distributors and an increase in the amount of the box office foreign (i.e. U.S.) film studios can take home with them -- it'll now be up to 25%, which is a significant bump. But more importantly it allows for an increase in the number of foreign films that can be shown in China. The Chinese government will allow for an additional 14 foreign films a year to unspool in its theaters.
    You can read the whole article here: John Scalzi on Film

    John Scalzi is probably best know for writing "The Old Man's War"

  10. #85
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    China needs to drop its political agenda to market films internationally

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    I don't think a movie like Flowers of War would have much appeal outside of China. I've never seen any of the Transformers movies, but I would assume that they're a lot more 'fun' than a movie like Flowers. I know if given a choice, I'd rather be entertained at the movies.
    I totally agree. While I have yet to see Flowers, it may well fit into these heavily propagandized films that PRC. That just doesn't fly outside the PRC. We have our own U.S. propaganda to watch. Unless your a sinologist, PRC propaganda isn't particularly entertaining.

    Aftershock is a great example. Aftershock was this Chinese blockbuster flick about the Tangshan and Sichuan earthquakes. Now, those of us who have been to China realize that the notion of a massive earthquake there is absolutely horrifying. Tangshan had 655,000 casualties; Sichuan had nearly 70K. The earthquake scenes are intense. It's a spin on Sophie's Choice, only with the quake instead of Nazis, and we learn what happens to the losing child. The first half is great, one of those terribly depressing Chinese tragedies, but engaging. The PLA are such heroes, and some of the scenes of the PLA in dress and rank are gorgeous. The film is fundamentally pro PLA propaganda. The second half starts racing through scenes, robbing us of the potential emotional impact of what was looking like some promising story arcs. The ending was completely unsatisfying and couldn't be saved, even with a sword fight.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #86
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    thats the thing about alot of the chinese films, especially the martial arts ones coming out now...they are so **** propagandist...its like yes we get chinese people strong! everyone else weak! we got it! the only film that has blown me away besides some of the indie stuff coming out of their has been wuxia..i still have to the tsui hark film...but i remember watching yip man 2 and just becoming disgusted with it..because i felt the film should of been about yip man, adjusting to hong kong and having to deal with all the masters, the movies climax should have been yip man taking on sammos hung ga character, and them becoming friends and showing martial spirit...would have been a much much better movie and the message would have been better too. but whatever sales right?

  12. #87
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    five to seven years from now, China will be the No. 1 media market in the world

    DreamWorks Animation unveils China studio plans
    February 17, 2012 | 2:33 pm

    DreamWorks Animation on Friday announced plans to build a studio in Shanghai, in what the Glendale-based company billed as a landmark agreement with two state-owned Chinese media companies.

    The creator of the "Shrek" movies said it was forming Oriental DreamWorks, a joint venture with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group in concert with Shanghai Alliance Investment -- an investment arm of the Shanghai municipal government -- to establish a family entertainment company in China.

    With an initial investment of $330 million, the Shanghai studio would develop original Chinese animated and live-action movies, TV shows and other entertainment catering to the China market. The deal was among several business ventures announced in downtown Los Angeles during an economic forum attended by visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to be the country's next leader.

    "We share the same vision with DreamWorks Animation to build a world-class family entertainment company," Ruigang Li, chairman of China Media Capital said in a statement. "Oriental DreamWorks will be a unique position to create high-quality content and interactive entertainment products for China and international markets."

    The new studio, which has been recruiting some staff in Hollywood, plans to begin operations later this year and could eventually surpass the size of DreamWorks' headquarters, which employs more than 2,000 people, Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said in an interview.

    "Our objective is to build an animation studio that is competitive with what we’re doing here," Katzenberg said. "We already have people working on over a half-dozen projects."

    The studio eventually hopes to produce one animated feature film a year, with its first release set for 2016. Additional animators will be hired locally to accommodate the new China facility, Katzenberg added.

    The joint venture is the latest push by Hollywood to mine the world's largest country. Last year, DreamWorks signed a deal with online video site Youku.com to distribute the studio's popular "Kung Fu Panda" movies in China. Beverly Hills-based RealD also has partnered with Beijing SAGA Luxury Cinema Management Co. to equip the Chinese theater chain with 3-D technology. Production companies Relativity and Legendary East also have unveiled new ventures to co-finance and release movies in China.

    "When you look out five to seven years from now, China will be the No. 1 media market in the world," Katzenberg said. "It’s a huge opportunity for us."

    Major Hollywood studios have been frustrated, however, by rampant intellectual-property piracy in China, as well as restrictions the government places on the number of foreign films it allows into the country, and how much revenue foreign studios can share.

    Talks between U.S. and Chinese officials to ease those restrictions have heated up this week, raising the possibility that an agreement could be reached during Xi's U.S. visit.
    I'm impressed that Xi's trip had so many ramifications for Chollywood. That was well played. Xi is next in line as China's top leader. Given the way PRC politricks works, all he has to do is lay low and he'll get it. If he makes too many enemies, they'll bring him down. So there were a lot of eyes on his trip. If he chummied up to America too much, that might have reflected poorly back home. However making ties in Hollywood is a perfect solution - it makes everyone happy. It's a total win-win.

    As for the political agenda in film, I address that in my inaugural Chollywood Rising column: Foreign Devils in 2010 September/October issue.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #88
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    Jimbo, Zhang Weiping should listen to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    I don't think a movie like Flowers of War would have much appeal outside of China. I've never seen any of the Transformers movies, but I would assume that they're a lot more 'fun' than a movie like Flowers. I know if given a choice, I'd rather be entertained at the movies.
    Zhang Weiping is bellyaching over this but the bottom line is a flop is a flop.
    The Blame Game
    2012-03-05 09:34:00 China Daily

    Zhang Weiping, producer of Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War, blames Hollywood and the United States press for "Nanjing Massacre denial". China Photo Press

    Zhang Yimou is humble and sincere, but the man behind him delivers an Oscar-worthy performance of the bad cop, again.

    Zhang Yimou may be the biggest filmmaker in China, but his producing partner, Zhang Weiping (no relation to the director) is extremely good at something else, namely spreading around culpability.

    Recently, producer Zhang launched into a tirade against Hollywood and the United States press, essentially accusing them of "Nanjing Massacre denial".

    In a series of media interviews, Zhang said that because "many Japanese denied the Nanjing Massacre, and two of the biggest film studios in Hollywood are owned by Japanese, Hollywood naturally identified with the Japanese view and concluded that The Flowers of War does not respect history, but is based on fabrication."

    He specifically mentioned the review by The New York Times, which was published on Dec 20, 2011, as "changing the tide of public opinion in the West". In previews before that, he claimed, the film was "warmly embraced".

    Government darling?

    Zhang Weiping reasoned the West got its preconceived notions about the film from three sources: Zhang Yimou directed the Beijing Olympics show, the film got a loan from a State-owned bank, and had its premiere in a government building.

    Of course, none of that determines it has to be a government-funded film. While all movies produced in China have to be government approved for content, not all are made by the government or government-owned entities.

    But is it true that the perceived government association with Zhang Yimou's new war epic undermined its box-office performance in the US?

    From what I have read, US press coverage of the film indeed showed some anxiety about the subject matter - whether it might be too "jingoistic" or whether it embodies some kind of government agenda. But once the critics saw the movie, it was pretty clear that what they did not like was the style rather than the content.

    The story itself, while highly melodramatic, has a kernel of truth as it was recorded in the personal journal of Minnie Vautrin, the American missionary educator who saved many Chinese refugees from Japanese brutality.

    Mike Hale, the New York Times film critic, wrote: "It's a contrived, hothouse state of affairs, summed up in a scene Mr Zhang likes so much that he repeats it: the laughing prostitutes sashaying across the churchyard in slow motion, oblivious to the impending tragedy. There will be tragedy, of course, though when it comes it takes a weirdly oblique form."

    Well, some Chinese blogger pulled out many reviews from the US press and compared them with Zhang's accusation. The result is not only discrepancies, but outright contradictions. It's safe to say that while Americans do not love the massacre topic as much as they do the Holocaust, they made it a point that it's Zhang's film they did not care about.

    It probably did not help either that the veteran director is no longer the art-house "dissident" whose work was constantly censured by the establishment.

    But it shows producer Zhang's desperation and lack of finesse to over-politicize the reception of their film, especially associating it with serious denial of the massacre by some Japanese politicians.

    Secretions of bitterness

    Zhang Weiping is prone to hyperbole. Before the release of Flowers, he claimed that it would gross 1 billion yuan ($158.73 million) in domestic box office revenue and 200 million yuan ($31.75 million) in North America. He ended up with 630 million yuan in the home market and $250,000 Stateside as of February, 2012.

    You can say he had high hopes and it is human nature to look on the bright side.

    Zhang has the habit of employing "grand" strategies for promotion. Before the movie came out in China, there were rumors that Zhang Yimou was to remarry his wife, whom he divorced over 20 years ago. The film before that came with the opportune surfacing of early private photos of the director and Gong Li, his long-time beau and muse, but since separated for a dozen years. Nobody could tell whether director Zhang consented to such marketing gimmicks, but they probably worked wonders - as expected - or why did he (or the marketers he hired) keep using such tabloid-style schemes?

    Zhang Weiping's company, China New Pictures Film, is strictly a one-trick pony, hmm, I mean one-director operation. If a project bombs, there is nothing to offset the loss, or send the blame elsewhere. And by "elsewhere", it means everywhere except the producer and the director.

    For example, producer Zhang blamed Bill Kong, his long-time producing partner, for chickening out of Flowers of War. He reprimanded Christian Bale for "hurting the movie rather than helping it". Previously, he also disclosed that he paid the Hollywood star $20 million, a move that ran contrary to professional secrecy. (Shouldn't Bale have helped its American exposure by doing something that the Chinese government hated, I wonder?)

    But Bale should not feel too bad about it. Zhang did say a lot of nice things about him before Flowers opened. Besides, at the time of Curse of the Golden Flowers, the producer hung out a laundry list of "bad behavior" by its star, Chow Yun-fat.

    More surprisingly, Zhang Weiping admitted to full understanding of the risks of this undertaking, including its political risks. So, he should have known what would happen later, right?

    As I see it, Zhang is not a gracious loser.

    Film is a risky business. You do not know what people will like at a certain time. They may swarm to World War II movies one year and become totally apathetic the next. That makes moguls like Harvey Weinstein true geniuses because they are able to predict - with a higher degree of accuracy - what audiences will swoon over two or three years from now.

    On top of that, it is ludicrous to place high hopes on Oscar recognition as a launch pad into the North American market. As has been shown in the past decade, the Best Foreign Language category has an aversion for big-budget epics. And even if it wins the award, it may not boost its box office in any substantial way, as has happened to many winners such as No Man's Land.

    Zhang Weiping has the chutzpah of Harvey Weinstein or Louis B. Mayer, but he does not possess their artistic visions. He supports the director without giving him the necessary input of a true film impresario. Of all the people who should take some responsibility for the less-than-stellar turnout, the producer should be the one to say, "The buck stops here." That means self-reflection about both the business and artistic decisions of the enterprise.

    By the way, whining like a baby will not help the director's future projects in terms of international cooperation. Who would want to be the next target of Zhang Weiping's wrath?
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  14. #89
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    Advertising and Marketing, they aren't just words.
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    And interest, s_r

    I think Jimbo is spot on with his earlier comment about Flowers. Ultimately Americans just aren't interested in that period of history, even with Bale as a lead man. Do they even teach about that era in schools in America? I know I never learned about it there. On the flip side, Transformers and Mission Impossible offer mindless spectacle and action. That has a universal appeal. When China gets over its politics and historical issues and figures out how to deliver that sort of a-cultural cinema fluff, then Hollywood should be really worried. But it never happened for Bollywood. They stuck to their format - culturally-immersed 3-hour musicals. India didn't care about the international market so much. China does.

    Top China Film Executive Touring Hollywood Studios, Meeting With Bruce Willis
    7:45 PM PST 3/7/2012 by Borys Kit

    Han Sanping, chairman of the powerful China Film Group Corporation, quietly arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday with a delegation from the country.

    One of China's top film executives is quietly making the rounds for meetings at Hollywood studios this week.

    Han Sanping, chairman of the powerful China Film Group Corporation, arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday with a delegation from the country, according to sources familiar with his activities. He was accompanied by principals from DMG, a Chinese-American media company run by Dan Mintz that is heavily involved in co-productions and distribution in China.

    China Film Group is the largest state-run film company in China and the only importer of foreign films, which makes Sanping a key ally for Hollywood. While Sanping's meetings are very hush-hush, they are said to be with most of the major studios, as well as certain directors and actors and post-production houses. A source says the delegation is meeting or has met with brass at Disney, Sony and Universal. Those studios, as well as Warner Bros. and Paramount, declined to comment.

    One talent name that has surfaced is Bruce Willis, who stars in the upcoming Chinese-Hollywood co-production Looper, which was shot in Beijing and is co-produced by Mintz’s DMG. Insiders speculate that Willis may be meeting with the Chinese delegation to discuss filming one of his upcoming movies in the country. Willis’ next two projects are Fox's A Good Day to Die Hard and a sequel to Red, both of which have international components to them.

    This week’s meetings come on the heels of last month’s blockbuster announcement that China will allow more U.S. films to be shown on Chinese screens. This is considered a major breakthrough since the increase – which raises the 20 films-per-year quota by 14 – applies to “enhanced” movies such as IMAX or 3D releases. Currently, China’s massive filmgoing population can’t get enough of American tentpoles, especially 3D titles. Five of the top-grossing movies in China last year were Hollywood 3D releases, including Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which took in $172 million in China. More recently, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol just crossed the $100 million mark.

    Also in February, DreamWorks Animation announced it was teaming up with two state-owned Chinese media companies, Shanghai Media Group and China Media Capital, to create a studio dedicated to making film, TV and stage productions for the Chinese market.

    Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com

    Twitter: @Borys_Kit
    Gene Ching
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