And You Wonder Why China is Fast Becoming the Driver for the Movie Industry

Whether it’s fair or not, numbers (and especially somewhat sure numbers) matter to those who are investing in movies. Some of them may only be doing it for the money (gasp) and not for artistic reasons. Investors know China only allows a limited number of foreign films into the country’s theaters, and the foreign movies China most wants to see are comic book movies, fantasy movies and 3D movies, and lo and behold that is what dominates the all-time grossing movies.

Considering China’s appetite, it’s a no brainer Peter Jackson and company went to China, and now with the premiere of Battle of the Five Armies in China, it will be significantly helped along to the billion dollar club. And this won’t be the first time China will help considerably in putting a Hobbit movie in the club. It will just do it much sooner than the last time with the earlier release, which is probably to thwart piracy making inroads into the box office receipts. The last two movies were released in China in late February.

But Peter Jackson’s gratefulness to China aside, he has to be aware of the changing landscape in Chinese movie making. I suspect he wanted to go to China as much as WB may have wanted him to go to China, since he is not only a movie maker but a service provider with his movie studio and special effects crew. Yep, China is a great source of revenue for anyone in his business. And whatever happens to Peter Jackson, I’m intensely curious about what will happen with the export of Chinese made movies and whether it will increase exponentially.

Mandarin anyone? :D

If you get a chance read the blog I link in that reference about piracy. All aspects of China’s economic impact (the least of which is the movie industry) have fascinated me for years, and I’ve been reading Rob Cain for a while. Just wish he posted more often.

EDIT: a little update for those who may not have thought 16M+ for an opening night was that much. The weekend was three nights, and it made 49M+. That’s USD. That’s over 5% of what the movie has made so far.


  1. I have great respect for the Chinese. They are immensely savvy and have a work ethic that is above and beyond western understanding. We sell wool from our property to Chinese mills and they certainly don’t need Australia to teach them how to spin good yarn and weave fabric.
    This is the country who brought silk to the world, transparent ceramics, gunpowder and the most exquisite fine art and culture.
    They are the most technologically savvy nation in the world and if one has watched their movies which I do periodically, it seems to me the west has little or nothing to teach them. I would be surprised if, apart from Box Office takings, PJ and Warner had anything to teach the Chinese movie industry apart from offering it a huge investment possibility. Read what you like into that…
    And in that respect: there is a super documentary called Red Obsession, narrated by Russell Crowe about the wine industry. The Chinese developed a taste for red wine and bought up large tracts of Bordeaux, driving the price of the French wine up to phenomenal figures. But then they decided that by irrigating similar lands in China, they could develop their own wine industry and thus the Bordeaux wine area went into the most massive slump from which they are struggling to rise.
    I find the quantum leap in Sino-West relations fascinating to watch, especially as in Australia we are far more a part of the geo-political Asian landscape than we are of the west.

  2. Regarding work ethic, the Chinese people certainly bring much to the table in how they prize team work and respect for authority, which is a great part of their success with manufacturing and education. This is something generally lacking in the U,S. We have put such a premium on the individual and freedom that it has sometimes shot us in the foot. But what the West may lack in production, they often make up in their ability to innovate. This is the byproduct of a free society, but China is not as free and therefore can be inhibited in their innovation. None of that is to say that there are not highly intelligent and creative people in China. I’m merely saying their government structure does not facilitate their efforts as much as the West does. And sadly, many of their talented scientists and engineers who are trained in Western developed countries end up working there.

    I actually worked for two Chinese brothers when I was much younger. They were both highly intelligent, highly educated and highly successful. They had both gained their degrees from ivy league schools in the U.S. There father had been the Attorney General of Tawain, and they spent part of their childhood there but most of it in China. They were very proud of their Chinese heritage and were fascinating, fascinating people. I also have a very good friend who grew up in China, married a Japanese architect who worked for I.M. Pei and ended up moving to San Francisco and eventually worked at the same company I did. Through all of these individuals I became very good friends with quite a few Asian people and the Chinese in particular. I love the Chinese, and I adore their work ethic. When that is married with the freedom of the West, look out! :D

    The good news is the powers that be in China are not able to isolate their countrymen as they once could, and it seems apparent China is headed for a rebirth in their creativity. I look forward to that!

    But back to PJ and WB. I don’t think they believe they have something to teach the Chinese movie industry. They just don’t want to miss out on that revenue stream. LOL!

    The documentary sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out!

  3. One of the most important factors for a movie star is to be bankable. Even if they are not so much domestically here in the USA, if they sell tickets internationally, they are given leading roles. Richard was smart to go to China and be charming to the fans. It will pay off. ;)

  4. Well said!

  5. I just want to reiterate I do know a lot of people who are from China, and I’m sure that’s greatly affected my views of the country even though I have read quite a bit on China. I realize personal contact is powerful, and I try to factor that into my conclusions. I’m not sure I’m always successful.

  6. It’s completely a no-brainer for RA, career-wise, to establish the most imposing presence on Weibo that he’s capable of! Your great information really helps make that clear. While I certainly understand it, I’m a little frustrated by so much whining on Twitter right now about being neglected – I need to RT you now, while people are hopefully happier re: new tweets! :)

  7. There’s whining on Twitter?! LOL!

  8. LOL, yes, I know it’s hard to believe :)

  9. We should officially change our collective name to the Richard Armitage Whining Army!!! Do you think he’ll approve? hehehe…

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