Reporter Journal / William Hennelly

'China Night' offers chance to share in glitz of Academy Awards

By William Hennelly (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-02-16 11:58

What with Wanda's Wang Jianlin talking about owning a Big Six Hollywood studio, it was only a matter of time before China got its schmoozing act down with an Oscar night party.

Enter the American-Chinese CEO Society (ACCS), which will throw the first "China Night" bash on Sunday, Feb 26, in The Beverly Hilton's Wilshire Ballroom at 9 pm, the night of the 89th Academy Awards show.

"We started this event because so many of our Chinese contacts and members asked for this," Kathy Kung, ACCS business development director, told China Daily. "They asked to go to the Oscars. They want to go to some special events."

The ACCS looks to foster trade, investment and opportunities between US and Chinese CEOs and other leaders who want to do business in China and vice versa.

Receiving honors from ACCS will be legendary Hong Kong actress Nancy Kwan and American actor Louis Gossett Jr.

Current Chinese film stars on the guest list are: Jackie Chan, director Chen Kaige, Joan Chen, Fan Bingbing, Sun Li, Tang Guoqiang, Zeng Zhiwei, Sun Haiying, Wang Baoqiang, Liu Xiaoqing, Chen Hong, Vivian Wu, Lv Liping and Deng Chao.

"Jackie Chan's business partner is our member," the affable Ms. Kung offered.

"Is Jackie Chan going?" I asked.

"We don't know yet," she said with a laugh.

Sponsors include American Airlines, Wanda and South Coast Plaza. Liu Jian, Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, will address the gathering.

The party comes at an exciting time for China's film industry.

After US President Donald Trump's "extremely cordial" conversation with President Xi Jinping last week, China is expected to expand its quota on foreign film imports and allow Hollywood a greater share of box-office revenue after government officials and industry representatives from both countries meet to renegotiate terms later this month, Chinese media reported on Feb 10.

The Global Times predicted that a dozen more films will be added to the quota and that US distributors' cut of box-office revenue could rise from 25 percent to 40 percent.

Under a five-year agreement signed in February 2012, China allows 34 foreign films per year, and 14 must be 3D or large-format movies.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month, Li Ruigang, head of China Media Capital, said the film allowance could jump to "50, 60 or even 70 US films", according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In late 2016, faced with slumping box office revenue, Chinese regulators loaded the docket with more Hollywood films, lifting the year's foreign-film total to 39 instead of 34, the publication said.

On the flip side, Wanda's movie The Great Wall, starring US actor Matt Damon, will debut in the US on Friday.

The movie was filmed entirely in China and had a budget of $135 million. The production was led by Legendary Entertainment of Burbank, California, a movie studio and investment company that Wanda acquired for $3.5 billion in 2016.

Wanda made a series of acquisitions in the US last year, including Wanda-owned AMC acquiring Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion, which made it the largest movie theater chain in the US and the world.

Wanda also bought Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion, a company most known for producing the Golden Globes, the Billboard Music Awards, the Country Music Awards, American Music Awards and the New Year's Rockin' Eve show from New York's Times Square.

And Wanda's office in Beverly Hills is where ACCS was preparing to hold its China Night press conference on Thursday.

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