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 »
Official figures released by China‘s film watchdog the SAPPRFT show 2013′s box office tally through November 25th was 19.3B yuan ($3.17B). That’s a 17.4% leap over 2012′s full take of $2.7B. But with only a month to go in the country that now has over 17,600 screens, will China be able to maintain the kind of growth it’s seen in recent years? The jump in 2012 was 35% and the year prior about 30%. A last-minute surge this year is likely, says Rob Cain, a producer in both the U.S. and China who writes the ChinaFilmBiz blog. That’s because there is a host of local movies on deck which he estimates stand to bring in about $500M by the end of December. If the math is correct, that would put 2013 about 36% above 2012.
Related: UK-China Co-Production Treaty Inches Closer
There are no more big U.S. productions expected to release in 2013, but November has been relatively good to Hollywood in China. The town’s movies are faring better than in the first half of the year when market share was down 21.3% year-on-year and imports to China had only $717M in sales. This quarter, U.S. films have about 55% of the market. Recent titles to go out include Escape Plan, Thor: The Dark World, Gravity and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Gravity just added $20.7M in its second week on 5,854 screens for a 13-day cume of $56.7M. Released a day after Gravity, Catching Fire did not have the same impact. Its worldwide success is undeniable: in the first 11 days of international release, the film has nearly equaled the entire international run of the first Hunger Games. It has $24.2M through Sunday in China, nearing the $27.9M lifetime gross of the original in the territory. I understand that Lionsgate execs are happy with the performance and Cain says it “looks like it will do better than the first one.” However, he opines, “In a market that’s grown by 80% [since the original was released] that’s not saying that much.” Another exec familiar with China tells me that Catching Fire likely suffered from the head-to-head positioning against Gravity. The exec says, “Bureaucrats try to stack the deck… and that causes a cannibalization of those films.” Cain agrees it may have been a factor that the films were released so close together — China “had to get the last few quota films out before December” — but also says the Hunger Games books and films haven’t been part of the zeitgeist in Asia. In his blog, he noted that Gravity benefited from a “liberal use of James Cameron’s quote calling it ‘The best space film ever’.” China is known as an especially brand-conscious country and Cameron’s Avatar is still the highest-grossing film there ever. Read More »
Controversy becomes Jimmy Kimmel, though it may give parent company Disney heart palpitations. Turns out, the week of November 18, Jimmy Kimmel Live had its best week in both viewers (2.86 million) and in the demo (1.05 million) since it moved to its earlier 11:35 PM time slot in January to play with the big boys. November 18, maybe not coincidentally, was the deadline for Kimmel’s non-fans to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition mandating White House comment on the ABC program’s Kids Table segment in which Kimmel asked a group of precocious moppets, among other questions, how they thought the United States should repay its $1.3 trillion debt to China. “Kill everyone in China,” giggled little Braxton. After which, all hell broke loose for Disney.
Related: Chinese Foreign Ministry Tells ABC To Respond To Protesters
Kimmel had been getting loads of free press since the October 16 broadcast, but it reached the boiling point as the petition neared its required 100,000 signatures. With that threshold easily hit, the White House is now obligated to comment on 6-year-old Braxton’s suggestion. (The White House raised the number of petition signatures required last January, after a petition calling for the deportation of CNN’s British primetime anchor Piers Morgan, and other petitions, very quickly hit the previous 25,000 signature threshold.) Kimmel has apologized for the segment, Disney has apologized for the segment, ABC has expunged the segment from all platforms and even plowed under the Kids Table segment.
Read More »
British Prime Minister David Cameron is in China this week on a mission to strengthen ties with the booming nation across many sectors, the film industry among them. He’s traveling with a large delegation that includes Culture Secretary Maria Miller, head of the British Film Institute Amanda Nevill and Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy. Although details were still being hammered out as of yesterday, it’s been hoped that a long-in-the-works co-production treaty between the UK and China would be unveiled on the ground. In the meantime, the pair today did announce a “cultural agreement” that includes in its text an accord “in principle” to support the conclusion of the treaty, and a bid to facilitate TV productions in both countries.
A treaty could still be signed this week, but it’s not a guarantee of more British films making their way into China since true co-production status, which eliminates the quota barrier on foreign movies, remains elusive across the board. A treaty wouldn’t relax the censors either as all movies are susceptible to cuts. Last year’s Skyfall, which was shot at Pinewood and also partly in China, saw some scenes excised from the version that went to local theaters.
However, in a longterm move, Cameron is also pushing for a free trade agreement between China and the EU – curiously at a time when Britain continues to debate whether it wants to remain part of the Union at all. I’ve heard conflicting thoughts on whether free trade would permit UK films to bypass the quota system, and the proposal overall is likely to rankle other EU countries. In a letter he penned in the current edition of Chinese business weekly Caixin, Cameron remarked on the increasingly prosperous Chinese population and cited James Bond and Downton Abbey, among Britain’s “world-class goods and services they need.” He wrote that he would back “an ambitious and comprehensive EU-China Free Trade Agreement… that could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year.” Read More »
European Commission Unveils “Film Support Rules” For EU
European Union member states provide films with an estimated €3B ($4.03B) per year in grants, soft loans and tax incentives. About 80% of that goes toward film production — one reason pricey indies are turning to the UK and the Continent. Today, in a long-awaited move by the European Commission, the body has published its new “film support rules” for the EU. The revised criteria for assessing member states’ support systems for film and other audiovisual works is being referred to as the “Cinema Communication.” It allows aid for a wider scope of activities, highlights individual countries’ discretion in defining support targets, introduces the possibility for more aid for European co-productions, and promotes film heritage. Among the highlights (the full text is here) is that co-productions funded by more than one member state now will be eligible to receive aid of up to 60% of the production budget. There are no limits on aid for script writing or development. In-country spend requirements will remain at the discretion of the individual states. The new Communication was met today with praise from both the UK and France. The BFI welcomed the news that the Cinema Communication “safeguards the UK’s film tax relief and Lottery funding for film. … The continuation of the successful UK film tax relief framework is a huge reassurance to the UK film industry and will support the growth of the sector.” French filmmakers also hailed the EC’s decision to “preserve the complex but efficient fabric of European cinematic support.” Commission VP Joaquín Almunia said, “The objective of these revised rules is to encourage vibrant audiovisual creation in Europe while preserving cultural diversity everywhere in the EU.”
U.S. Writers Will Head East With AFI/IDG China Story Fellowship
The American Film Institute announced today its AFI/IDG China Story Fellowship, a scholarship program at the AFI Conservatory aimed at developing screenplays that foster greater understanding of Chinese history, culture and literature. The fellowship provides nine AFI Fellows with travel to China for cultural research. They will write a feature-length screenplay and receive a full scholarship for their second year at the AFI Conservatory. “Too many Americans only know Chinese culture through animated films like Kung Fu Panda and Mulan,” said Hugo Shong, Chairman of IDG Greater China. “Americans deserve to see other types of movies about China, ones that hopefully can entertain them, educate them and at the same time touch their hearts.” Read More »
With Hollywood increasingly headed to China, here’s a twist: A Chinese TV series is about to set up shop in the Pacific Northwest. DMG Entertainment, the company that partnered with Marvel on Iron Man 3 in China, will … Read More »