China has added 14 slots to the 20 Hollywood blockbusters they already allow into the country per year, as long as the additional films are in Imax or 3D. At the close of China vice president Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S., some Chinese trade sanctions on Hollywood were lifted, which could lead to more 3D and Imax movies being greenlit. Hollywood films currently account for 40% of China’s box office, even in their small number. The new agreement now allows foreign filmmakers to keep 25% of profits, up from 13%. “The industry has been living with the numbers in terms of percentages and quotas for 20 years. It begged for a conclusion,” says Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America.
After spending the day with Jinping in Los Angeles, Biden pressed on the trade dispute in question as the two had dinner, stating “we’re really close,” said an official who was present. “It would be great to get this done.”
Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent Film and Television Alliance adds, “we do think it’s a breakthrough,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “For the first time we really have the building blocks to begin to work competitively in that marketplace,” she added. Presently, about 40 foreign indie films get a release in China each year, along with the typical 20 from Hollywood, with producers haggling over 2-3% of the gross. Now, they will be able to get roughly what they get elsewhere, in China. The new agreement might not only affect revenue – Su Mu, a professor at Beijing’s film academy, claims Chinese cinema has basically been ‘tricking’ moviegoers into theaters through the use of big name movie stars as of late, instead of making worthwhile films with actual production values and plots. “More U.S. movies may force domestic producers to take a correct attitude toward their works and learn from others,” Mu tells the Guardian.
Market trends suggest that Hollywood blockbusters are in demand in China, and in 2011, 803 new theaters opened, many of which were equipped to handle Imax and 3D movies. “This is a very big deal,” adds Chris Dodd, describing the new arrangement. Biden and Jinping agreed the new rules will be under review in 5 years.