Asia Minute: Hollywood Watching Chinese Trade Developments

Oct 14, 2019

There are several beneficiaries of the apparent progress late last week on trade talks between the United States and China. First up are American farmers---who are expected to send more crops to China. Another location ready for reduced tensions: Hollywood. 

China is increasingly important to major American filmmakers.

Consumer demand is growing—China could overtake the United States as the world’s biggest film market by next year.

But there is also an element of scarcity in this story.

China allows fewer than 40 foreign films into the country each year—and Hollywood movies remain the most popular import.

The market can make a big difference to the fortunes of a release—so this summer’s placement of movies including the latest Spiderman and Toy Story Four were events for studios to celebrate. 

Chinese financing is also playing a growing role in U.S. movie production and distribution---more than a third of the shares of the AMC Entertainment theater chain are owned by the Chinese company Dalian Wanda—the same company that four years ago bought the organizer of the Ironman Triathlon Races.

But there has been fear in the industry as US/China trade tensions have risen over time.

A headline from Variety in June reflected the feeling: “Trump Trade War Starts to Threaten Hollywood’s Business in China.”

While U-S farmers are getting the initial headlines following Friday’s announcement of a preliminary trade deal, studio heads may also be relieved by the developments.