Why China Is Changing Filmmaking's Future

The country's projected to become the largest film market by 2020, and the effects are already being seen in various aspects of the industry, including investor funding and story choices.

What's the Latest Development?

This year's Berlin International Film Festival, which began last week, features a higher number of Asian films and companies than in previous years, according to festival director Dieter Kosslick. It reflects the growing influence of Asia in general, and China in particular, in the film industry. An Ernst & Young study predicts that China will become the world's largest film market by 2020; Kosslick believes it'll happen sooner than that.

What's the Big Idea?

Hollywood is increasingly relying on foreign markets for its profit base: Today, only one-third of revenues are earned in North American theaters. This affects not only who gets cast in expensive blockbusters, but what sorts of stories are told and how. For example, the 2012 remake of the movie "Red Dawn" originally cast Chinese as the bad guys, but they were changed to North Koreans during post-production. Also, the 2009 Chinese film "A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop," a remake of the 1984 American film "Blood Simple," "made more than 10 times as much money in China as the original did in the United States." Producer Jerry Bruckheimer says that movies based on uniquely American themes, such as football, will still be made "but with much smaller budgets."

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