Magazine article Variety

Hollywood Fights for China Film Slots

Magazine article Variety

Hollywood Fights for China Film Slots

Article excerpt

WITH THE CineAsia convention having ended Dec. 10 in Hong Kong, execs from Hollywood studios can begin playing their part in the quota sweepstakes.

It's a lucrative contest: China's theatrical box office was worth $6.3 billion in the first 48 weeks of the year, a figure that makes 2014's $4.9 billion look puny. Decisions on which Hollywood films will get berths are made after the studios have each held private screenings for the Film Bureau and state-owned distributor China Film Group, and lobbied for the titles they most want to get in the country.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be the first Hollywood film of 2016, with a Jan. 9 release and an unusual uninterrupted three-week run.

After that, the state-controlled releasing calendar becomes complicated by Chinese holidays (Chinese New Year starts Feb. 8 next year) and competition from local movies.

Each studio will hope between four and six titles get picked for 2016. And as China Film Group is a revenue partner, the emphasis is largely about selecting the biggest, safest titles. But the further off a possible theatrical debut is, the greater the uncertainties become.

"The only thing that we can be sure of is that the market-share requirements are here to stay," said one executive dolefully, referring to the measures taken by Chinese regulators to ensure that local films enjoy more than half the nation's B. …

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