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China's Hollywood affair

world Updated: Sep 06, 2010 00:12 IST

When Scarlett Johansson strode across the screen in Iron Man 2, she was wearing a form-fitting outfit made by Semir, a Chinese brand and an official sponsor of the blockbuster movie this spring.

That wasn't the first example of Chinese firms getting in on the Hollywood product placement game. In last year's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a highway billboard featured another Chinese sportswear company, Metersbonwe.

"More and more Chinese brands would like to get their products placed" in Hollywood films, said Ben Ji, head of Angel Wings Entertainment and the man behind getting Semir clothes into Iron Man 2. His ultimate goal: to get a Chinese car in a James Bond film.

Product placement is just one example of China's new love affair with Hollywood.

Chinese production companies are looking to partner with Hollywood firms for everything from making films to managing China's growing number of theatres. And rumours persist that a Chinese company - spurred on by a government that wants to extend this country's "soft power" into the cultural sphere - is on the prowl to purchase an American film studio.

The affection is not unrequited. Hollywood producers and directors are flocking to China, looking for scripts, locales and potential investors for the growing number of Chinese and Hollywood "co-productions."

"I run into Hollywood executives here every week," said Jonathan Landreth, the Beijing-based correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter.

Following recent co-productions such as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, China and Hollywood collaborated this year on the hugely successful The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, and Shanghai, with John Cusack, Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat (which premiered in Beijing in June to lackluster reviews).

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