Making good on a promise to get tough with exhibitors who manipulate box office figures, Chinese authorities have banned nine movie theaters from screening new films. The state-controlled Xinhua news agency says cinemas in such areas as Shandong Province and northern Shanxi have been found reporting fake numbers to the government, selling hand-written tickets (or none at all) or interfering with official box office inspections. The news was issued in a statement from the China Film Producers Association and the China Film Distribution and Screening Association, two semi-official bodies that fall under the purview of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The suspensions are a reaction to what’s believed to be a long-held industry practice of hiding income from the government which takes a 3% value-added tax on revenues as well as a 5% film fund tax. Increased scrutiny should be welcome news to Hollywood studios who are entitled to a 25% revenue share with exhibitors. China’s reported box office in 2013 was $3.6B, but industry experts believe the real figure is at least 10% higher.
Related: China To Crack Down On Fraudulent Box Office Reporting With New Ticketing System
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3rd UPDATE, 3:20 PM PT Monday: The Lego Movie has upped its overseas weekend cume to $24M in its 48 markets due to stronger UK and France numbers. It now has an international total estimated at $93.5M. … Read More »
Not So Fast: China Says It Isn’t Increasing Movie Quota
Contrary to reports earlier this week, China is not planning to increase its quota on films imported from Hollywood. Official state news agency Xinhua said Tuesday that the quota will remain unchanged at 34, citing an official with the country’s film governing body, SAPPRFT. In February 2012, China and the U.S. signed a pact to increase the number of films approved for theatrical release in China from 20 to 34. The parties also agreed on an increased revenue share of 25%. In the first year the change was implemented, local Chinese films lost market share but since have rebounded strongly with about 58.7% of box office takings in 2013. In a statement on Monday, MPA Asia chief Mike Ellis said the org was unaware of any official plans on changing the quota system but noted that the belief that an open market “best serves filmmakers and audiences alike. … Removing the quota for international films is something we’ve been advocating for some time and would provide the widest possible movie experience for audiences while benefiting the Chinese screen community and our member studios.” Read More »
ITV Orders Quiz Show ‘The 21st Question’
ITV has ordered The 21st Question, a new tactical quiz show from Chocolate Media. In the game, one power player faces 10 challengers through a series of tense “winner stays on” rounds … Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione reports from the Berlin Film Festival opening today, previewing the Berlinale with host David Bloom. They also take a look at China’s new plan to crack down on box-office fraud and what it means for Hollywood’s products in the No. 2 film market; detail the UK’s big jump in film production from overseas; and plumb the surprising overlap of real-world political scandal and fictional drama that made the Cesar Award nomination announcements far more titillating than usual.
Berlin 2014: Competition Titles More Accessible
Berlin: Slow-Forming Packages, Timing & Talent Issues May Lead To Soft Market
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CNN’s David McKenzie was stopped by Chinese police today while trying to approach a Beijing courthouse to report on a trial of a government activist. Later, when McKenzine was interviewed about the incident on AC 360, the show’s feed was cut in China. Here’s the video and Anderson Cooper’s interview:
China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is getting tough with cinema operators. The authority outlined new measures this week designed to prevent movie theater managers from manipulating box office figures and defrauding the government and rights holders. According to FilmBizAsia, SAPPRFT’s memo on the matter, aka “A Notification Regarding the Strengthening of Film Ticketing System’s Management Practices,” is the first major revision of regulations in the sector since 2005. It’s widely said that theaters hide income from the government which takes a 3% value-added tax on revenues as well as a 5% film fund tax. Local distributors usually have a 42% revenue share with exhibitors, and U.S. studios are entitled to receive 25% of the share. China’s reported box office in 2013 was $3.6B, but the state-controlled Xinhua news agency says industry experts believe the real figure is at least 10% higher. FBA says that insiders have claimed as much as $826M, or 18.7%, of box office sales was not reported last year.
MPAA Confirms Studio Win In China Box Office Pay Dispute Read More »
China’s First Daily U.S. Talker? ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’
The Ellen DeGeneres Show has become the first U.S. daily talk show to be carried in China with the current 11th season now available on-demand via online video service provider Sohu Video. Episodes of the Warner Bros International Television Distribution property will be subtitled in Chinese and delivered within 48 hours of the original U.S. broadcast. Ellen is the top-rated daytime talk show in the U.S. with women 25-54. The talker seems well-suited to the Chinese audience with its brand of family-friendly humor and big stars. Here’s a clip of DeGeneres welcoming her new audience:
Starz’s ‘Power’ To Premiere At MIP-TV
Power, the Starz original series exec produced by Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) will have its world premiere at this April’s MIP-TV market in Cannes. MIP-TV and sister market Mipcom have been increasingly drawing big-ticket premieres and talent to the Riviera in recent editions. In October, Mipcom hosted the world premiere of The Tunnel, the Franco-British adaptation of The Bridge. The eight-episode first season of Power was created by showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh. Jackson also stars in the story of a wealthy New York City nightclub owner (Omari Hardwick) who caters to the city’s elite. He’s also living a double life as the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York. His marriage, family and business all become unknowingly threatened as he is tempted to leave his criminal life behind and become the rags-to-riches businessman he has always dreamed. Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and David Knoller also serve as executive producers. The screening will be held April 7. Read More »
British Film Institute Strengthening Industry’s Ties To China
In December, British Prime Minister David Cameron visited China on a mission to strengthen ties across many sectors, the film industry among them. During the trip, an agreement was made in principle to support the conclusion of a UK-China co-production treaty. The British Film Institute is now moving forward with further plans to increase its relationship with the world’s No. 2 box office market. The new initiative is going by the moniker Electric Shadows — the Chinese term for movies. The program will encompass a year of business, trade, and creative and cultural collaborations between the UK and China and is designed to grow mutual economic and cultural benefits for film from both countries. Part of the aim is to bring previously difficult-to-access Chinese cinema to UK audiences and, in turn, to make British cinema available to Chinese audiences. The moves fall in line with the BFI’s International Strategy, in which China is a key priority territory. In February, Personal Tailor and Back To 1942 director Feng Xiaogang will visit the UK to accompany a retrospective of his work, a gala screening of Back To 1942 and to be interviewed about his career at BFI Southbank. The BFI and the British Council also will work closely with the Beijing International Film Festival in April to lead a trade delegation and present British films at the event. From June through October, the BFI will stage an exploration of Chinese cinema in the UK, and in the fall, a selection of contemporary and classic British film will be shown in Beijing. Read More »
Justin Lin is making his first filmic foray into China, and into 3D. The director plans to helm a remake of 1982’s The Shaolin Temple which starred Jet Li in his debut role. Hot off a press conference in Beijing to announce the project, Lin’s partner at Perfect Storm Entertainment, CEO Troy Craig Poon, tells me the plan is to hire “an A+ list Hollywood writer to tackle the story” although there is no start date for now. “We will commence only when we feel this is ready,” says Poon. The 1982 Shaolin Temple was a Hong Kong martial arts movie directed by Chang Hsin Yen. The original story was based on Shaolin folklore and set during the transition period between the Sui Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty. When the Tang emperor is betrayed by one of his generals, the son of one of his slave workers escapes to the temple, trains in kung fu, and sets out to kill the traitor. The remake project is a collaboration of Beijing Enlight Pictures, Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars and Perfect Storm. Poon, Wu and Enlight’s Wang Changtian will produce. Poon says the budget will be north of $100M and that the idea is for it to be a “blockbuster unlike ever seen for (the Chinese) market.” He believes the timing of the film could coincide with China becoming the world’s No. 1 movie market. Read More »
Natascha McElhone Boards West End ‘Fatal Attraction’
Californication‘s Natascha McElhone is set to take on the role of Alex Forrest in the stage adaptation of Fatal Attraction. Written by James Dearden and directed by Trevor Nunn, Fatal Attraction opens at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket on March 25. Dearden was nomiated for an Oscar for writing the 1987 hit film about a one-night stand that turns deadly. This is his first venture into live theater. McElhone’s stage credits include Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Count Of Monte Cristo, The Cherry Orchard and Honour. Veteran director Nunn’s recent theater credits include takes on A Little Night Music, Cyrano De Bergerac, Inherit The Wind, Kiss Me Kate, Birdsong, All That Fall and Scenes From A Marriage. Fatal Attraction is produced by Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions, Robert Fox and Patrick Ryecart. The rest of the cast is due to be announced shortly. Read More »
Jo Nesbo To Rewrite ‘Macbeth’ For Hogarth Shakespeare Project
Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo has been tapped to rewrite Shakespeare’s Macbeth for a 21st century audience. The author of the Harry Hole detective series will take on the Bard’s murderous “Scottish Play” for 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the BBC reported. Nesbo, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, is the latest writer tapped by Hogarth Shakespeare to update the Bard’s works; also set for modern adaptations are Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), Anne Tyler (The Taming Of The Shrew) and Jeanette Winterson (A Winter’s Tale). The Hogarth Shakespeare program is an international publishing initiative from the Penguin Random House imprint. The novels will be released simultaneously in 2016.
DMG’s Chris Fenton Joins US-Asia Institute Board
DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group President Chris Fenton has joined the board of trustees of the US-Asia Institute. As the sole member from the entertainment industry, he will help the Washington, D.C.-based group increase its understanding of the role showbiz can play in diplomacy with China. Fenton will join senior banking execs and Beltway stalwarts including his longtime friend Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., who recommended him for the post. Fenton travels to Washington regularly to discuss Chinese entertainment- and media-focused matters in both one-on-one and group sessions with Congressional members and senior staff. Read More »
Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom discuss the latest enticement to film Britain, a marketing and distribution incentive package from the British Film Institute designed to give UK indie movies a better chance at a Sundance deal; why BAFTA thinks Gravity is a British film; prominent new roles for veteran media execs Pierre Lescure and James Schamus at two of Europe’s biggest film festivals and a Despicable villain’s big Chinese debut, half a year after his U.S. run.
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 22 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 22 (.M4A version)
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It’s already been out for six months elsewhere, but Despicable Me 2 drew big numbers in its opening in China. The film bowed in China on Friday, the first major U.S. title to debut in the country this … Read More »
Deadline’s International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom wrap up the major box office trends across Europe, China and South America this past year and moving into 2014, including what impacts the 2014 World Cup will have on the film business in host country Brazil and other soccer-mad countries; ponder the just-breaking news about a change of Hollywood “gatekeepers” at the top of China Film Group; look at two hugely successful films burning hot and cold across the global box office this past week; and put the telescope on the Rising Stars reaching for one of BAFTA’s coolest awards.
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 21 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 21 (.M4A version)
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EXCLUSIVE: As Hollywood continues to learn the ropes in China, I’m hearing that there are a host of big management shifts coming at the upper echelons of the Chinese film business. There have been rumors for some time that … Read More »
While Hollywood continues figuring out how to do business in China, and execs remain cautious, there is a sense that 2013 was a tipping point in the complex relationship between the world’s two box office leaders. As Hollywood’s focus turns to maximizing global grosses, the town is increasingly looking for ways to cozy up to the territory that adds 10 theaters a day to service its 1.3B+ population. And China is also strongly courting Hollywood. In September, Wanda’s Wang Jianlin unveiled ambitious plans to bring the industry closer to the Mainland and emphasized China’s place at the center of the global biz, urging players to cooperate for a piece of the pie. Then, at November’s U.S./China Film Summit in L.A., China Film Co-Production Company’s Zhang Xun offered, “We have a huge market and we want to share it with you.” Here’s a look at some of the key happenings in China in 2013 and a taste of what to look out for in the coming year:
Related: China’s Wanda & Hollywood: How Much Is Real? How Much Is Real Estate?
China Box Office Hits $3B+: Hollywood Improves While Local Films Dominate; What Does End Of 2013 Hold In Store?
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A Chinese court has ruled that producers of a hit kids’ TV cartoon hold partial responsibility for serious burns sustained by two children in a copycat act of violence. The court also laid partial blame on the legal guardians of a 10-year-old boy who in April tied two others to a tree and set them on fire in Jiangsu province, the Xinhua news agency reported. The 10-year-old boy said he had been imitating a scene from the cartoon Xi Yangyang & Hui Tailang (Pleasant Goat And Big Big Wolf). With increased scrutiny on how violent images affect TV and film audiences, and how ratings systems inform parents, the decision by the court comes at a notable moment.
One of the injured boys, aged seven, had burns to 80% of his body. His four-year-old brother was burned across 40% of his body. The court ordered the 10-year-old boy’s guardians and Guangzhou-based producer, Creative Power Entertaining, to pay 60% and 15%, respectively, of their compensation. Because the show is aimed at children, the court said producers are obliged to scrutinize violence carefully, and that inappropriate scenes should be cut and warnings given, Xinhua said. Read More »
UPDATE: TUESDAY PM: Welcome to Deadline’s first dedicated international box office round-up, with me as your host. After last night’s snapshot (below), here’s a look at the past weekend and an overview of what’s going on at the turnstiles in various overseas territories. Feedback, as always, is appreciated:
Internationally, this weekend was down on the comparable frame last year when films like Skyfall, Rise Of The Guardians and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 were in the mix. The top 10 titles this weekend saw a drop to about $118M from the Thanksgiving period that scored abroad with $182.7M, according to industry data. The actual holiday isn’t a factor overseas, but it does bring big movies to market. Overall, some European territories are off – to varying degrees – versus the first 11 months of 2012, while Latin America and Asia remain hot spots. This weekend’s big pictures overseas continued to be Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which added $42.9M for a $340.6M cume and Disney’s animated Frozen which added an estimated $30.6M for an international total of $55.9M.
The place that’s highest on execs’ minds is China where “we’re all looking forward to a boom,” one tells me. Catching Fire and Warner Bros’ Gravity are still playing on the Mainland with respective cumes of $26.8M and $63.7M. But both films will taper off as the local industry ramps up a series of homegrown movies for the remainder of December. With quotas filled for 2013, Hollywood will wait until 2014 for the next debut which will be Universal’s Despicable Me 2 on January 10th. As the Chinese box office rolls along on its way to a potential $3.5B tally for 2013, the current top film is local 2D action-road trip pic No Man’s Land. Co-produced by DMG, it opened at No. 1 on December 3rd and won the week with $23.7M through Monday. It came just ahead of another local hit, The Four 2. The rest of the year will see a big push for local films as the territory continues an aim to up its local market share, which is currently at 55%.
Elsewhere in Asia, romantic comedy About Time had a strong No. 1 opening in Korea this weekend with $4M at 289 dates and 28% of the market. Director Richard Curtis has said this would be the last film he helms. It comes squarely 10 years after the movie he’s perhaps most associated with directing, Love Actually. About Time’s opening in Korea is double what that film did there. The low-budget time travel romcom with Rachel McAdams, Domnhall Gleeson and Bill Nighy has had pretty significant legs for Universal. It was first released in the UK in September and now has a cume of $48.3M. Summit’s Escape Plan – the actioner that teams Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger – has now muscled its way into 41 international markets, adding Korea this weekend for $925K and a No. 5 slot on 287 screens. Its international total is now $95.9M out of a worldwide gross of $120.5M. This was a slow weekend for local films in Korea despite the territory’s overall strength. Its box office growth in the first 11 months of the year is understood to be at about 7.6% and I’m told the homegrown market share could top out at 60%. Read More »