Magazine article Screen International

CinemaCon: Wanda Exec on How Hollywood Can Succeed in China

Magazine article Screen International

CinemaCon: Wanda Exec on How Hollywood Can Succeed in China

Article excerpt

Keynote speaker John Zeng delivers five-point plan for foreign fare; highlights growth in second and third-tier cities.

International filmmakers must champion action films with strong visual effects and pick releases dates carefully if they are to succeed in China's increasingly competitive distribution landscape, top Chinese executive John Zeng told Las Vegas attendees on Monday.

Outlining the final points in his five-point roadmap to success, Zeng urged content creators to invest in digital and social media campaigns, secure exhibitor support for marketing innovations, and establish alliances with powerful local partners.

In a wide-ranging keynote address at the start of CinemaCon's International Day that tellingly did not address the quota system, the senior vice-president of Wanda Cultural Industry Group, president and board director of Wanda Cinemas, and board director of AMC Theatres touched on several overall trends.

"The trend of consolidation will be unstoppable," he said, adding that film-going has become a regular habit in China, online platforms driven by mobile account for about 80% of all ticket sales, and screens will continue to grow at a high rate.

The genres that work in China

"Chinese audiences favour Hollywood films with strong IP, visual effects and creativity," Zeng said.

He highlighted the triumphant theatrical release of titles like Zootopia, which grossed $221.8m in China compared to $341m in North America, and Warcraft, which earned $213.4m in China, in stark contrast to the $47.4m North American gross.

The $71.7m launch last weekend of Kong: Skull Island and recent $163m gross achieved by XXX: Return Of Xander Cage further illustrate the point.

Turning to local product, Zeng noted the success of comedy, romance and action titles.

However original Hollywood stories bearing strong hallmarks of American culture were generally not so well received. Finding Dory, for example, mustered $37m in China compared to $486.3m in North America, while Maleficent grossed $43m against $238m in North America.

Zeng cited "super blockbusters" that performed strongly in both territories, such as Furious 7, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War.

The executive emphasised the importance of carefully constructed marketing campaigns. Warcraft enjoyed particular success in this area. The film - the third biggest film of the year in China and the second biggest imported release - was the subject of themed theatres, in-theatre marketing, a VR experience, and mechandising.

Lower-tier city growth provides optimistic box office forecast

The executive reiterated data from last week's annual report by the Motion Picture Association Of America, noting that China's box office in 2016 reached $6. …

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