China gaining clout in film industry
Updated: 2011-10-28 11:00
By Wang Jun (chinadaily.com.cn)
LOS ANGELES – From an industry perspective, Janet Yang, president of Manifest Films, and former president of production of Oliver Stone's Ixtlan Productions, said it's a whole shift of power toward China. The move is deeply rooted in China's increasing "capital earning and spending power."
Janet Yang, president of Manifest Films, and former president of production of Oliver Stone's Ixtlan Productions. [Provided to China Daily]
As one of the 50 most powerful women in Hollywood, Yang has extensive experience in bringing Hollywood movies to China and Chinese movies to the United States. With a degree in Chinese studies from Brown University and an MBA from Columbia, she was hired to run World Entertainment, a company created to distribute Chinese films in the West. In 1985, she was tapped by Universal Studios to help distribute movies in China.
Yang recalled that when she first started, she had to explain to everyone there were Chinese movies. But now co-production is common in the industry.
Yang was speaking at a recent conference, The Media and Culture in Contemporary China, sponsored by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC). The event took place Oct 21-22. Chinese producer Zhang Jizhong was the keynote speaker.
Mike Medavoy, chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures and co-founder of Orion Pictures, said, on the other hand, funding is drying up in the US. As a Shanghai-born Jew, he has managed to bring the Shanghai Film Group on board for his new production.
The Black Swan producer is currently working on an English-language feature film about how Chinese helped the Jewish people and their culture in Shanghai during World War II. Medavoy announced the partnership at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June. Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, with whom Medavoy worked previously on the film Time and Again, will join him again.
Mike Medavoy, chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures and co-founder of Orion Pictures. [Provided to China Daily]
Everyone makes movies to export them, said William Mechanic, president and CEO of Pandemonium Films, and former chairman and CEO of Fox Film Entertainment. It is especially the case for Hollywood, as the United States has only five percent of the world (market) population, Mechanic pointed out.
Eyeing the China market, Disney has been training Chinese children to be a new generation of consumers of its films, said Aynne Kokas, a PHD student at the Asian Languages and Cultural Studies of UCLA.
Kokas spent the last summer in Shanghai for her dissertation. She found Disney uses platforms to provide children with access to otherwise restricted content. The platforms include Tudou.com and Youku.com, free online movie-watching sites. In addition, Disney has also branded an English-language learning center and a photo studio in Shanghai, catering to mostly children's needs.