After spending four days in Santa Monica at the American Film Market with movie executives and agents, Chinese film officials have declared their first major trip to Hollywood a success.
"It was very positive," said Thomas Leong, who heads International Pacific Artists, which handles China's interests in Hollywood. "The results are still pending, and we will see over time how much was talk and how much will result in business."
The delegation from the China Film Co-Production Corp. met with representatives of Disney, Columbia TriStar, Warner Bros., Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and New Line Cinema.
The Chinese delegation, headed by Zheng Quangang, also had chats with officials at the William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency and International Creative Management.
The Chinese are trying to woo Hollywood studios to sign co-production deals with Chinese production companies, which would first have to be approved by the government-sponsored China Film Co-Production Corp. These movies would be filmed inside China and involve Chinese subject matter. That way, Hollywood could get more films distributed in China; currently, the country only allows 10 American movies a year, but these co-production projects would avoid those restrictions.
"The projects have to be tailored for the Chinese market," Leong said. "We don't want to force the MTV culture onto China."
Leong said China is aware of Hollywood's creative bookkeeping practices and especially the way two Japanese electronics giants, Sony and Matsushita, lost hundreds of millions after buying American movie studios.
"They have to deal with us, too," Leong said. "We are aware of the Japanese experience and have no plan to emulate what they have done."
Among the issues discussed during the Sino-Hollywood meetings was piracy by Chinese entrepreneurs. Leong said his government is trying to eradicate this problem, adding that "piracy hurts us equally, if not more."
Leong acknowledged that censorship, another thorny issue for Hollywood, exists in China just as it does in Great Britain and other countries.
"You might compare us to a concerned parent who wants his children to grow up healthy, strong and moral," he said. "This is not done out of malice, but we have no Jerry Springers in China and for very good reasons."
"Charlie's Angels," a hit series more than two decades ago, has become one of Hollywood's most durable productions. Sony Pictures Entertainment has created a Spanish-language production for Telemundo network. The studio is also developing a big-screen version that could star Drew Barrymore, and now comes word of a Chinese version. "It's moving ahead," Leong said.
Why such an interest in this tale about three sexy private eyes and their mysterious boss, Charlie?
"It's a great formula," said Gareth Wigan, co-chairman of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.
Columbia TriStar has opened Hollywood's first production office in China, based in Hong Kong. Until now, movie studios have only operated sales and distribution offices in Hong Kong
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