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FEATURE STORY: Hollywood Comes to China
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This summer there has been a noticeable lack of foreign films at the movie theaters. Experts say that this is a strategy to protect the local Chinese film industry. There have been a number of big summer blockbusters like the Amazing Spider-man, The Dark Knight Rises and The Bourne Legacy that will have their summer release pushed back to the end of summer and beyond. China has been protecting its domestic film making market for years, allowing only a select few foreign films to be released in Chinese cinemas. Despite this, the Chinese market has been opening up recently; the import quota on foreign films for 2012 went up from 20 to 34 movies. The foreign movie studio will receive 25% (up from 13%) of the box-office revenue, compared with a 50:50 split in America.
However, things will start to change in the not so distant future. Movies, which are co-produced in China with a local Chinese partner, are exempt from this import limit. China's box-office ticket revenues have been increasing by 30% a year since 2003 a figure, which Hollywood has been making the Hollywood studios working hard to hammer out deals with their Chinese counterparts in order to cash in on this new gold rush. Over the summer, there have been several monumental partnerships in the film industry that could drastically affect our theater going experiences in China and abroad. 
On  6 August Dreamworks, the makers of such animated films as Kung-fu Panda, Shrek, and How to Train Your Dragon, announced a large international investment project to be based in Shanghai. The new animation studio, named Orient Dreamworks, announced that “Kung Fu Panda 3” would be made in China as a co-production with the parent company and will be released in 2016. The first full-length feature animation from Orient Dreamworks is expected to be released in 2017. After that, the plan is to create one to three animated films a year. Also announced was “Dream Center,” a cultural and entertainment center for tourists and citizens that will open in 2016. This entertainment center will exceed investment of RMB 20 billion and be built on the Xuhui Riverside in Shanghai. International architectural masters are submitting plans for various theaters, shopping centers, cinemas, tourist attractions, restaurants, and commercial facilities. This center and the nearby “Media Port of the West Riverbank” are being envisioned as new landmarks for Shanghai and a cultural and artistic center that might one day be compared with New York City's Broadway or London's West End.  
James Cameron, the creator of the two highest grossing films ever, Avatar and Titanic, announced on 8 August that he and his partner, Vince Pace, are setting up a joint-venture here in Tianjin. The collaboration is a joint-venture between Cameron Pace Group China, Tianjin North Film Group, and the High-Tech holding Group (the latter two are state-owned entities). The collaboration will focus on bringing Cameron's industry leading 3-D technology and production services in order to aid China's booming moviemaking industry. Cameron believes that “the future of entertainment is 3D, and the future of 3D is in China” which is why he is making such a big investment in China. The first project that the group will work on is a 3D documentary film about Beijing. Perhaps Avatar 2 and 3 will be at least partly produced here in Tianjin.
Disney led the deal making when earlier this year they announced that Iron-Man 3 would be co-produced with Beijing based DMG Entertainment Group. Part of the film will be shot in China and is rumored to feature the Chinese villain, Mandarin. Also, out in theaters right now is an interesting time travel drama called “Looper” (featuring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) which was another joint-venture that was partly filmed in Shanghai.
While all these developments are quite exciting for movie goers, China still has some major issues before it can fully reach its full box-office potential. The main issue of course is regarding piracy.  However, while piracy is difficult to control, experts believe that if there are more interesting movies that come to theater, citizens will fork out the cash and see it in the theater instead of buying it off the street. 

By Justin Toy 
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