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China bows before soft power of Hollywood

It was an agreement signed during heir apparent Xi Jinping’s visit to the US earlier this year but months later the outcome’s not exactly turning out to be the perfect one for China.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2012 00:28 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

It was an agreement signed during heir apparent Xi Jinping’s visit to the US earlier this year but months later the outcome’s not exactly turning out to be the perfect one for China.

The box office returns of Chinese films have taken a hit from Hollywood movies after Xi signed a pact in February that allowed more US movies to be screened in China, a top government official told reporters on Sunday.

The pact exempted 14 f US films from China's annual quota of 20 foreign films per year that are allowed to be shown in theatres in China.

It was signed during Xi’s high profile visit to the US where he told a group of school children during an interaction that a favourite was “Saving Private Ryan.”
Xi is not the only one in China getting glued to Hollywood. After signing the deal, the number of American films in China and their proportion of revenues have increased by a “large margin”, Vice Minister of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) Tian Jin told the press conference about China's cultural development at the sidelines of the Communist Party of China's crucial COngress..

SARFT is the apex body in China that filters content on traditional popular media like and film and television before it’s allowed to be shown in China.
"The past dominance of domestic films in the Chinese market has been shaken," Tian said.

According to the statistics shared by him, China's 2012 box office revenues reached 13.27 billion Yuan at the end of October. Though it was more than revenues from all 2011, the share of revenues for domestically produced films was only 41.4 percent, constituting “a huge drop.”

Tian said the US film industry is reaping massive profits while domestic producers are under greater pressure, mainly because Chinese movies cannot compete with the Hollywood spectacles.

"The competitiveness of Chinese-made films must be raised," he said.

The deal Xi signed was the outcome of a US victory in 2009 at the World Trade Organisation case that challenged Beijing's restrictions on import and distribution of copyright-protected materials.

China, Tian and other officials said at the conference, produced 558 feature films in 2011 compared with 140 in 2003; it has 9,200 movie screens versus 1,953 in 2003; it has listed 43 cultural sites with the United Nations, giving it the third-highest number in the world.

China, they said had 2,115 museums that do not charge for admission; and last year it published 370,000 book titles, the highest in the world.