Filmmakers zoom in on China
The rush is on to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese market.
WHAT came through most clearly at last week’s inaugural ScreenSingapore event was the bewildering pace of change in the movie industry. Jon Landau, producer of Avatar, kept declaring that all films would be made in 3D within a decade. Michael Werner, chairman of the much-admired sales agent Fortissimo Films, suggested only half-humorously that soon, all films would have their first run on the internet. Only the hits would show in cinemas.
But while you could (and people did) argue with these predictions, one thing came through loud and clear. Before too long, the biggest cinema audience in the world will be Chinese. The only reason that isn’t already the case is that China has very few cinemas, according to Greg Coote. The former head of Village Roadshow is now an equity investor in Los Angeles – with runs on the board including The Matrix series and Avatar – and chairman of ScreenSingapore.
”There are still 300 cities in China of over a million people without one cinema screen,” he says.
But the picture is changing, as Werner cautions, constantly. Last year, 1533 screens opened in China, while box-office takings went up by 64 per cent. There will be 10,000 more in the next five years. Soon, their box-office gross will overtake Japan’s, making China the biggest film market outside North America. And everyone in the movie business would like a piece of that pie.