Listen to (and share) the first episode of Deadline’s audio podcast “Global Showbiz Watch, with Nancy Tartaglione.” Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about Rupert Murdoch’s latest backpedal over the long-festering British newspaper scandals; the new investment tie-up between media powerhouses Bruno Wu and Thomas Middlehoff; and whether China is loosening its restrictions on filmmakers. Finally, with the imminent debuts of The Wolverine, which was filmed substantially in Japan, and a samurai remake of the Oscar-winning Western Unforgiven, they spotlight the entertainment business in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Deadline Global Showbiz Watch, (MP3 format)
Deadline Global Showbiz Watch, (MP4a format)
The M4A version of this podcast is designed to run on any device using Apple’s iTunes software, and includes enhanced graphics and links to stories and other resources. The MP3 version of this podcast is designed to play on virtually any device capable of playing digital audio.
In a move that could help reduce red tape for foreign producers, China’s State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television says it will excise 20 items from its roster of responsibilities, in effect relaxing some of its notorious censorship rules. Most notable among the cancelled regs is a stipulation that the org must approve film scripts that deal with “general topics.” All films, be they local movies or co-productions, have traditionally been required to submit a full script in order to gain approval for shooting. Now, say local reports, productions with “regular themes” will only be required to submit a synopsis or treatment, rather than a full script. What skews as “regular” or “general” is understood to include works that don’t touch on religion, ethnic groups, foreign affairs and “other special topics,” says industry site FilmBizAsia. (Some filmmakers have called for clarification of the terms.) Read More »
In its biggest deal to date, Baidu, China’s answer to Google, has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire app store 91 Wireless for $1.9B. Beijing-based Baidu will pay $1.09B for the majority 57.41% stake that’s held by … Read More »
In a reversal of fortune, ticket sales for Chinese movies skyrocketed in the first half of 2013 to dominate the home market. Local films grossed 6.85B yuan ($1.1B), for a 144% increase on last year. Imported movies lost 21.3% of their market share with sales of $717M. Total box office for the first semester was $1.79B, up 36.2% year-on-year according to figures released by government agency the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Leading the charge for Chinese movies this year is Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons which opened in February and had taken $203.7M by the end of June. Despite the downturn in U.S. movie fortunes, Iron Man 3 was the second biggest grosser of the six month period at $123M, the figures showed, according to China Daily. So Young, the drama directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei which broke opening day records in April, rounds out the top three at $117M. Of the top 10 titles, four were Chinese, accounting for 54.4% of revenues in the first half. Films that are currently burning up the box office include coming-of-age drama Tiny Times which had taken $67.67M as of Sunday, Johnnie To’s Blind Detective which sold $13.65M in its first weekend and Man Of Steel whose cume was $58.20M as of Sunday according to Ent Group data. Read More »
Coloring Book Based On Horror Movies Yanked In UK After Marketing Gaffe
UK retailer Tesco has pulled a horror-movie-themed coloring book from its website after it was mistakenly marketed to children ages 5 to 8. The book, Colour Me Good Arrggghhhh!! includes images from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction. According to the BBC, Tesco said the book had been placed in the wrong category when listed on its website by a third-party seller. Author, artist and publisher Mel Elliott said the book is indeed meant for an adult audience of “playful grown-ups.”
Brit TV Dramas Drive ‘Snobbish Pop-Cultural Hierarchy’ In China
British dramas such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock are big hits at home and abroad, but in China they’re also part of what the Wall Street Journal calls “an increasingly snobbish pop-cultural hierarchy.” Described by local media as a “disdain chain,” it works like this: British drama fans look down on folks who prefer U.S. shows, and they in turn look down on Korean soap fans. The lowest of the low in the disdain chain are fans of domestic dramas. The taste for high-end British fare like Downton and Sherlock is a growing phenomenon. Entgroup compiled levels of discussion on different social media sites to find that British dramas are catching on with the wealthy youth and account for upwards of 9% of foreign TV discussion. Also notable, more than half of those who follow British dramas on social media sites have at least a bachelor’s degree, Entgroup found. Hit Brit shows like Downton are expected to have 160M online followers in the next two to three years. Sohu.com, Youku Tudou and Tencent all have dedicated online channels for British dramas and the Journal says the latter two are competing to sign exclusive deals with distributors like BBC Worldwide and Fremantle Media to stream the shows. Read More »
Two international sales and finance powerhouses are getting on the China bandwagon. IM Global has enlisted former Huayi Brothers exec Leslie Chen to head up its new Beijing operation. The offices will be open at the end of the month where IM Global’s pan-Asian distribution label Apsara will be based. Chen will manage much of the company’s international sales activity in the region as well as overseeing the release of IM Global’s films in mainland China.
Meanwhile, France’s Wild Bunch is partnering with Beijing-based production and distribution group Taihe Pictures to create a sales and distribution outfit Taihe Wild Bunch. The company will focus on acquiring international distribution rights for Chinese movies with crossover potential and will exploit Wild Bunch’s catalog, including remake rights, in China. Wild Bunch has deep ties to China having worked with such filmmakers as Lou Ye, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou over the past several years. Read More »
Panjin Among ‘Fourth-Tier’ Chinese Cities Seeing Surge At Box Office
Like other so-called fourth-tier Chinese cities, Panjin is experiencing a box-office boom. Theaters there are selling nearly as many tickets in a month as they previously were in an … Read More »
A new study by Digital TV Research reports that there are currently 814 million pay-TV households in 97 countries worldwide. The jump to 1 billion homes by 2018 will be led by the booming Asia Pacific region … Read More »
DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg was in Chengdu, China this week for the Fortune Global Forum talking about how much Chinese audiences love animation. The Croods‘ box office is now the country’s … Read More »
In the past several months, Chinese comedies Lost In Thailand and Journey To The West have laughed all the way to the bank, becoming the top local hits of all time with over $200M in box office each. In the past several days, a drama has been breaking … Read More »
Baidu, China’s answer to Google, has acquired the online video business of web-based broadcaster PPS for $370M. PPS’ online video business, which includes Asian and American programming, will be folded into Baidu’s TV and and movie portal iQiyi. … Read More »
The 2012 London Olympics were nothing short of smashing (and wouldn’t NBC love some of those ratings today?). Now comes the official documentary of the games, First, an insider look at several rookie Olympians who bypassed … Read More »
UPDATE, 10:49 AM: Sony Pictures just announced that China is going to give Django Unchained another bow in theaters. This time, maybe it’ll even screen all the way through. The studio releasing the Quentin Tarantino actioner about race relations issued this announcement this morning: “We are delighted that audiences throughout China will be able to experience Django Unchained beginning Sunday, May 12th. There is tremendous excitement, anticipation and awareness for the film and we thank the local authorities for quickly resolving this issue.” On April 11, Django was booked into theaters around China only to be pulled within minutes into screenings without an official explanation. It has taken Sony and Chinese officials all this time to complete negotiations. Read More »
UPDATE: 9:20 AM: Just two days after Disney announced that Iron Man 3 would open in China on the same day as its North American release May 3, the date has changed. The sequel … Read More »
The Motion Picture Association and the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association have released a study that says the film and TV business contributed $15.5B to China’s economy in 2011. Commenting on the report, Mike Ellis, president and managing director of the MPA for Asia Pacific, said, “Chinese audiences are seeking out and enjoying a variety of films, whether they are made locally, internationally or co-produced through collaborative international partnerships.” While box office is predicted to keep building regardless of where films come from, figures released recently by China’s film watchdog confirm what could be a disturbing trend for Hollywood: Local movies are taking a big bite out of ticket sales. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said last week that homegrown films accounted for 69% of mainland box office revenues in the first quarter of 2013. The shift began with the late 2012 release of comedy Lost In Thailand, which broke about every record possible, went on to become the highest-grossing Chinese title of all time and gave a kickstart to 2013. But despite that movie’s eleventh-hour arrival, local pics still finished 2012 at a four-year low with a market share of only 48%. In the first three months of this year, however, Chinese films made 3.6B yuan ($582M) and six films broke the coveted 100M yuan ($16.2M) barrier. The top film was Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which earned 1.25B yuan ($202.2M).
‘Journey To The West’ Breaks China Box Office Records In Holiday Bow
Chinese Pics Lose Market Share In 2012, But Local Comedy Is Top Grosser Of All-Time
Last year, four foreign films were responsible for 56% of total sales in the first quarter. But this year, the only Hollywood pictures to punch above 300M yuan ($48.5M) were Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Xinhua news agency reported. They were followed by A Good Day To Die Hard, Cloud Atlas and Resident Evil: Retribution.
Related: U.S. Movie Influx Has “Shaken” Chinese Industry, Official Says
China Outpaces Japan To Become World’s No. 2 Movie Market: MPAA Read More »
You don’t have to know the language to figure out Disney, Marvel and China-based producer-distributor DMG Entertainment have pulled out all the stops to promote Iron Man 3 in China ahead of its … Read More »
The UK’s Pinewood Shepperton is the latest Western outfit to hook up with Chinese media mogul Bruno Wu via a joint-venture to finance and produce content in China for the global market. The 50/50 partnership with Wu’s Seven Stars Media Limited will be called Song Lin (Pinewood in Chinese) with each side initially putting up $1M for R&D on local business proposals. Those include co-production opportunities; training courses to be given by British institutions in Beijing and other cities; financing and related services for local productions; film-themed entertainment venues in Shanghai and regionally; and film-themed projects in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan. A UK chairman will be appointed.
This is the most recent announcement involving Wu in what’s been a busy 14 months. In February 2012, he burst onto Hollywood’s radar with plans for an $800M media and investment fund and subsequently formed a joint-venture with Fast Five helmer Justin Lin for a slate of films. He also outlined plans to build entertainment and media hub Chinawood in Tianjin with an investment of over $1.27B. Wu was then in Cannes to say he would back the John H. Lee remake of John Woo’s The Killer and in December hooked up with Avi Arad’s Arad Productions to develop superhero franchise properties inspired by Chinese history and mythology, starting with Rise Of The Terracotta Warriors. Those films along with Gong Li-starrer The Last Empress are in development.
Some industry insiders both in China and in Hollywood have been skeptical of Wu and his ambitious announcements, which so far don’t appear to have produced much tangible output. However, he is understood to be “incredibly well-connected politically” which foreigners believe cannot hurt in a territory like China, where the government retains a tight grip on the media. Read More »
Paramount is teaming with the state-backed China Movie Channel and U.S./Chinese streaming company Jiaflix in a “cooperation agreement” on Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4. This is the latest high-profile studio movie to enter into a Chinese partnership: Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which debuts later this week in China, was made with local production outfit DMG. Although that film was initially intended as an official co-production, Marvel and DMG untimately said they decided not to apply for the status. The Paramount announcement makes no mention of Transformers 4 being a co-production, but says China Movie Channel, under SARFT, “will cooperate with Paramount in broad-based support of the production of the film in China.” Transformers 4 will be released there on or about June 27, 2014. It will shoot in China and local post-production is a possibility. Chinese talent is also expected to be cast alongside Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. Bay recently said Transformers 4 “will feel very different then the last three. We are embarking on a new trilogy.” The last Transformers pic, Dark Of The Moon, was huge in China, grossing $165M locally. The press release below spells out the details on the deal:
Los Angeles, CA – April 2, 2013 – Paramount Pictures, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises announced today that they have entered into a Cooperation Agreement regarding the production of “Transformers 4” in China. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on April 1, 2013 in Beijing and Los Angeles.
Pursuant to the agreement, China Movie Channel, under the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), will cooperate with Paramount in broad-based support of the production of the film in China. “Transformers 4” is expected to be released in China on or about June 27, 2014. The parties also intend to cooperate in a number of other areas related to “Transformers 4,” including the selection of filming sites within China, theatrical promotion, and possible post-production activities in China as well as casting of Chinese actors and actresses in the film.
This agreement represents the first time that China Movie Channel will work with a western studio in the production of a major motion picture.
Read More »