Here are some reflections following Creative Industries’ panel discussion in Hangzhou on 16 October:
There are 5 to 10 new cinema screens opening every day in China. There are close to 4000 cinema theaters in the country with a growth of the box office of 30% yearly. The market is now the second largest in the world behind North America with 2.6 billion USD in the box office in 2012.
Market share of local films: 50%
Market share of foreign films: 50%
Market share of Hollywood in foreign film segments: 100 %.
Bizarre! China and the EU are both signatories of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity. European film producers were the main investors in 90s Chinese talents Zhang Yimou and Ang Lee, still the most interesting film directors in China. Both directors were first internationally recognised at European film festivals (whether in Cannes or in Berlin). The European SME model and independent cinema is surely a model to follow for China to develop a diverse range of film productions companies and to encourage the emergence of talented film directors. Both Europe and China have an interest in fending off Hollywood domination. Why is the 34 foreign films quota limited to Hollywood blockbusters in a country that aspires to develop its local production capabilities and offer diversity to Chinese people who also deserve access to intelligent and ambitious story telling? What is the European Union doing to promote its image industry in the world?
What to do? Some ideas:
Encourage Chinese distributors to work with European film companies (but will they always prefer lucrative Hollywood?)?
Contract with Alibaba to build an independent film platform to access Chinese consumers and by pass traditional distribution channels?
Find business allies to convince Chinese authorities of the merit of enabling independent cinema to develop in China, a country hungry for cultural content?
Offer cross promotional activities for Chinese films in Europe? Negotiate a share of the film quota?
As China will never be able to access the US market – foreclosed to foreign films- it would be clever for Europe to show that its market is more open and what cultural diversity means to Europe !
What do you think? Any ideas?
Philippe Kern, 20/10/2013