La Peikang & China’s official sales data
China’s Film Regulators Unveil Official Box Office Reporting After Secret MPAA Deal
The new website from the country’s Film Bureau is being viewed as a sign that China will honor a commitment to allow greater oversight of its box office, after allegations of fraud. China’s film industry regulators have launched a new website supplying official, comprehensive ticket sales data from the booming Chinese box office — a first for the country’s fast-growing film market, now the world’s second largest.
The website, which went live late last week, is being viewed as a good-faith gesture from China, meant to show that it is serious about cracking down on rampant box office fraud in the country and that it will honor a new agreement signed in secret with the Motion Picture Association of America.
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During Chinese president Xi Jinping‘s high-profile visit to the United States late last month, the MPAA sealed a new film distribution agreement with China’s powerful state studio, China Film Group. According to THR‘s sources, the deal includes a concession from China to allow international firms to audit China’s box office for the first time (the MPAA has declined to comment)
“It is a forward step to show seriousness from the China side to the MPAA that they will honor the new amendment to let foreign firms audit box-offices,” a Beijing-based source with knowledge of the discussions tells THR.
Previously, box office data in China came from various private agencies or the state-affiliated distributors themselves, which regularly reported conflicting totals. The new website is said to be China’s attempt at a transparent, centrally managed box office data source covering cinemas nation-wide.
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The website is updated daily at 9:30pm, Beijing time. It is managed by the Special Fund Administration, a division of the China Film Bureau that collects and manages the 5 percent film fund tax that is charged on all movie tickets sales in China — proceeds of which are earmarked for developing the country’s movie industry.
The release of the site has also been hailed in the local Chinese press and by movie figures on social media as a positive development for the Chinese film industry.
Meet China’s La Peikang, the movie world’s most powerful man
By: Phil Hoad
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud says he experienced little interference: “[But] I am perfectly aware that my case may have been an exception. I cannot deny that I have heard frustration from many in the local industry. I have an unconventional view of the matter, though. Some of the greatest pieces of literature, some of the finest painting in history, was done under the yoke of the church. Constraint can be a powerful spur for creativity.”
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It might be if the workings of the system weren’t so opaque in China. Last month, the government both approved the first cinema release for a film centred on a gay relationship, and was faced legal action from a director complaining about the removal of his LGBT-themed documentary from streaming sites.
This free-expression quagmire is part of the reason why the country’s blockbuster productions are so dominated by a bland, tourist-brochure approach to film-making – and thus attract virtually no heat abroad. Again, it falls to La – who spent nine years in Paris and speaks fluent French – to bring the Chinese up to speed with global film tastes. There are signs of progress. Monster Hunt, the 3D fantasy that recently became the country’s highest grossing film ever, looks to be a more playful spin on the kind of Middle Kingdom period pageants that have constituted too much Chinese mainstream film output: it features a village mayor who gives birth to a CGI monster-princeling that looks like a radish.
La earmarks The Great Wall, a $135m (£88m) co-production with Universal from communist party house director Zhang Yimou, and Paramount’s Marco Polo film, directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), as the next big hopes. The former’s sci-fi elements, especially, promise a tastier spin than the usual brown-bread biopic approach, but Yimou’s previous crossover effort Flowers of War was touted as a mould-breaker and look how that turned out: US gross, $300,000.
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Annaud believes it is La’s “sincere mission” to cultivate quality on his watch. Other commentators think the government’s true interest may be in maintaining market share by investing in Hollywood films, rather than by promoting homemade ones. The chairman is unsparing about those who get left behind in the current scramble. “Some of our directors, and they tend to be the unsuccessful ones box office-wise or within the industry, try and find excuses for their failure: ‘The government put restrictions on me.’ But for most directors, foreign or local, if they get successful in China, they know the rules and regulations. They don’t have to make excuses.”
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