MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd recently admitted he was hoping for a Hollywood-China relationship without an overseas quota, according to an interview the former Senator granted to Variety.
Dodd spoke to the trade publication from China, where he was meeting with Ci Fuchao, the new minister overseeing the State Adminitration of Radio, Film, and TV, and Tong Gang, head of China's Film Buraeu, the entity with the powerful to decide which overseas films make it to theaters.
The MPAA Chairman addressed several of Hollywood's existing concerns with the world's number two film market, including late payments and the infamous "blackout" periods that pull overseas films from release in order to give an advantage to Chinese productions. According to Variety, The Croods was recently pulled from theaters in order to give competing Chinese animated films a leg up around the Childrens' Day holiday. Fox last reported a $60.6 million cumulative gross for The Croods in China as of June 2.
China increased its state sponsored quota of overseas films for theatrical release in February 2012. The number nearly doubled, going from 20 films to 34. Chinese co-prodcutions are exempt from this quota. The specific limitations of a Chinese co-production, however, come at a creative cost for producers and filmmakers. Recent films like Iron Man 3 have instead opted for a hybrid approach, openly courting for approval from Chinese censors and audiences alike by avoiding potentially sensitive subject matter and including "China-friendly" cuts featuring scenes with popular Chinese actors. The strategy worked for Iron Man 3, which has already grossed a massive $120.6 million from the territory.
Chinese censors are difficult to convince, however, as other high-profile films have fallen out of favor and seen themselves locked out of the market. Django Unchained was pulled from theaters during its opening day, only to be rescheduled in a brutal release window in close proximity to the premieres of Oblivion and Iron Man 3. Django floundered upon its newly scheduled release, currently posting a meager $2.78 million in China. World War Z, a production which had been careful not to alienate Chinese censors in its globe-trotting zombie apocalypse storyline, was rejected by Chinese censors last week, according to a report from The Wrap.
The face-to-face meetings indicate hope for a closer working relationship between Hollywood and the world's second most important film market.
Star Trek Into Darkness led the Chinese box office in its first week in release, grossing $25.87 million in six days. It's not the blockbuster figure that Paramount might have been hoping for the sci-fi sequel, but is still more than the $23.49 million cume that Oblivion has grossed after 24 days in release. Meanwhile, Iron Man 3 continues to reach blockbuster milestones, reaching a $120.6 million cume in China after 33 days.
Domestic film American Dreams in China continued its healthy run in the box office, grossing $17.98 million last week for a $69 million cume. It is about half of what runaway success So Young has grossed, which is currently posing a $114.71 cume after 38 days.
Children's Day was celebrated in China on June 1st and brought about a number of new animated films for the demographic. Happy Little Submarine 3 - Rainbow Treasure, apart from being a leading contender for the best film title of the year, opened to a weekend gross of $6.82 million. The Adventures of Sinbad 2013 enjoyed a $4.64 million weekend, and Kui Ba 2 grossed $2.93 million over the holiday weekend. The Croods kept its strong hold-over performance in China by grossing $5.73 throughout the week, reaching a successful $62.37 million cume.
Weekly Box Office Results for China. Week ending on June 2, 2013.
Star Trek Into Darkness grossed $25 million in its opening week to become the top film in China, according to sources at Paramount. The sci-fi sequel played in over 8,000 cinemas and nearly tripled the overall cume of the previous film in the country. Children's Day, celebrated on June 1st, presented a great opportunity for the latest Star Trek entry, which proved popular with Chinese audiences. The holiday was also a highlight for The Croods, which grossed $2.5 million over the weekend, according to sources at Fox, a good hold after the previous week's 7-day $4.85 million take.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that the $25 million debut from Star Trek Into Darkness was enough to overtake former #1 film American Dreams in China. THR's source claims the domestic film brought in $17.9 million last week to land in second place.
Entgroup tells BoxOffice that Star Trek Into Darkness has grossed $6.8 million as of May 29. The sci-fi flick started with preview shows on May 27 in China.
American Dreams in China led the Chinese box office in its second week. The Chinese film grossed an eye-opening $33.3 million over the last week, reaching a $50.5 million total in its home market. The film has its sights set on overtaking fellow Chinese hit So Young, which grossed $3.63 million in its fifth week to reach a $113.2 million cume. Iron Man 3 landed in a distant second place in the weekly box office chart, grossing $7.13 million to take its cumulative total in China to an impressive $118.07 million -its most important overseas market. The Croods passed G.I. Joe: Retaliation in China this week with a better-than-expected $56.29 cume. Oblivion will be happy with the $22.29 million it has grossed in 17 days, especially considering its packed release date. The same cannot be said about Django Unchained, a disappointing flop in China with a $2.65 million gross after 15 days.
Box Office Results for China. Week Culminating on May 28, 2013.