China to double the size of its entertainment industry

China to double the size of its entertainment industry

Forget Bollywood, the next film studios to look out for will be Chinese
China to double the size of its entertainment industry - Shanghai Film studio
Filming at the current Songjiang Film Studio, which will soon be eclipsed by the Huayi Brothers Culture City project.

On the eve of the National People’s Congress, the government has announced a plan to more than double the size of its entertainment and cultural industries over the next five years.

Although Hollywood and China have increasingly been working together as the Chinese film industry has opened up, this move would set the two head to head in the studio and box office, said a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The plan would be to grow the country’s current film and television production value to almost RMB 3 trillion (approximately US$460 billion), by 2016 in the hope of extending China’s cultural influence worldwide.

"We will deepen the cultural industries because they are a new growth point of our national economy," said Sun Zhijun, director general of the Office of Central Leading Group for Reform of Cultural Systems, in a meeting with the press Monday.

Chinese movie-going audiences are seen as the next major market for international films. Global revenue hit a record US$31.8 billion in 2010 ... with the driving force being record ticket sales for international films in China

He also noted that China's entertainment market revenue was estimated at RMB 1.3 trillion last year.

Chinese film studios produced 15 percent more films in 2010 than 2009 according to media research firm EntGroup Inc.

As a way to support the domestic film production market, China tightly controls the number of foreign films allowed into the country each year, with only 20 screened in Chinese theaters in 2010, although a recent WTO ruling has challenged this regulation. 

Chinese movie-going audiences are seen as the next major market for international films -- if those films can get into the country.

Global revenue hit a record US$31.8 billion in 2010, up 8 percent from the year before, said the Motion Picture Association of America last week, driven by record ticket sales for international films in China. 

Huayi Brothers as part of Chinese domestic film growth

Shanghai is getting in on the trend as the Huayi Brothers Media, China's largest film and TV producer, recently announced plans to build an indoor studio complex in Shanghai. It will be East Asia’s largest, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Huayi Brothers Culture City will span 1,000 acres in Shanghai's Jiading District and cost RMB 1 billion (US$152 million) to build, Chinese media reported.

Huayi Brothers is famous for backing Chinese blockbusters including "A World Without Thieves," "Aftershock" and "If You Are The One."

We will deepen the cultural industries because they are a new growth point of our national economy.— Sun Zhijun, director general of the Office of Central Leading Group for Reform of Cultural Systems

The first stage of construction, which will occupy roughly 250 acres, will commence at the end of this year and be completed by 2013, according to Ta Kung Pao. Entertainment rides will be built later.

In a similar announcement, the Huayi Brothers have also said that they will be producing 10 films in 2011 as part of what Huayi President Wang Zhonglei calls the “H plan."

The move involves producing 10 films with 11 directors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan including Xia Yongkang (夏永康), Chan Kwok-Fai (陈国辉), Lin Shuyu (林书宇), Wu Ershan (乌尔善), Stephen Fung (冯德伦), Niu Chengze (钮承泽), Pang Ho-Cheung (彭浩翔), Ronny Yu (于仁泰), Jackie Chan (成龙), Tsui Hark (徐克) and Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚).

Wang explained the name of the plan saying that "'H’ is the first letter of Huayi Brothers and furthermore, we would like to add a more lively meaning to it with the idea of 'High Hope' as well."

At the conference, the company said their films for 2011 would be:

  1. "Quanqiu Relian" ("全球热恋"): Xia Yongkang (夏永康) and Chan Kwok-Fai (陈国辉) directing
  2. "Xingkong" ("星空"): Lin Shuyu (林书宇) directing
  3. "Painted Skin 2" ("画皮2"): Wu Ershan (乌尔善) directing
  4. "Taichi" ("太极"): Stephen Fung (冯德伦) directing and Jet Li (李连杰) producing
  5. "Love": Niu Chengze (钮承泽) directing
  6. "Hui Saijiao De Nvren Zuihaoming" ("会撒娇的女人最好命"): Pang Ho-Cheung (彭浩翔) directing
  7. "Yangjiajiang" ("杨家将"): Ronny Yu (于仁泰) directing
  8. "Shi’er Shengxiao" ("十二生肖"): Jackie Chan (成龙) directing
  9. "Detective Dee Prequel" ("狄仁杰前传"): Tsui Hark (徐克) directing
  10. An unnamed project that Feng Xiaogang will be directing.

Director Feng Xiaogang said that he had been waiting to make this new film for 10 years, but it had never come together before now. He is planning an adaptation of the Liu Zhenyun’s novel “Wengu 1942" ("温故1942") which is about the great famine of 1942 in Henan Province.

Feng Xiaogang said he hopes it will “stir the history of the national soul.”

Out of the 10 films announced, three will have budgets over RMB 100 million including Shi’er Shengxiao ("十二生肖") directed by Jackie Chan. 

The The Huayi Brothers are hoping to capitalize on China’s growing film industry which has seen explosive growth over the past few years, breaking the RMB 10 billion mark through box office sales for the first time in 2010.

With the government's recent announcement, it seems the company is well-positioned to continue riding the wave.

 

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

Read more about Jessica Beaton
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