022: (中文) U.S. Studio co-pro partners: who should you target?

Young Asian student showing US national flag and looking sideways

022: (中文) U.S. Studio co-pro partners: who should you target?

In today’s first Mandarin language podcast – I discuss which US studios Chinese producers and writers should target for their next co-production.

这是我的第一个中文播客。 在今天的播客中,我将谈谈中国制片人和编剧为他们下一次的合作应该瞄准的美国电影公司。 我会提到这家美国电影公司在中国的历史,他们的中国合作伙伴,以及他们的独特之处。

English transcript

INTRO: The China-Hollywood Greenlight podcast, episode 22

This is Caryn McCann, the host of the China-Hollywood Greenlight podcast – a podcast about creating and distributing content for both Hollywood and China.

This is my first Chinese podcast. I’m doing this podcast in Chinese for two reasons. One I hope to encourage Chinese producers and filmmakers to be guests on my podcast and two (selfishly) I’d like to improve my Chinese.  Hopefully I will accomplish both.

In today’s podcast I will talk about American studios that Chinese producers and writers should target for their next co-production.

Like in all my podcasts – I start out with an update on what I’m working on.

I am launching a new China-Hollywood screenplay database. It’s called The China List – This is a membership website for Western and Chinese screenwriters to connect with producers, financiers, agents and managers in the East and West.  Future plans include a film catalogue for filmmakers looking for sales and distribution, as well as China-Hollywood mastermind groups, a film crew finder and a lot more.  You can sign up now to be notified when we launch on my website – The China Hollywood Greenlight.  

As a special promotion – I’ll be offering the first 50 screenwriters who sign up free membership for a limited time. Producers, financiers, agents and managers can apply for free membership. You can find the signup form on my website at chinahollywoodgreenlight.com  and go to “The China List” page.

Before I begin the main segment, I’d like to start out with a motivation quote to encourage our listeners to continue on their path to achieving their own green light. And today’s quote is a Chinese proverb which says: An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet.” 

And now – here is the main segment:

The title of today’s podcast is – Which US studios should you target for your co-production?

I’ll mention the studio’s history in China, their Chinese partners and what makes them unique.

20TH CENTURY FOX

20th Century Fox had a division called Fox International pictures. Back in 2013 FIP signed an Asian film co-financing deal for local language films with Ivanhoe Pictures. Then in June 2017, FIP announced it was to co-produce 10 online movies with China’s Tencent. Unfortunately, in December 2017,  20th Century Fox announced FIP was shutting down. They decided that local offices overseas would develop and acquire projects.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

Luckily 20th Century Fox inked a deal with China’s major streaming platform – iQIYI. This deal covers VOD and subscription streaming for the studio’s theatrical releases.

What’s the Bottom Line? You’ll need to reach out to the studio’s local offices to get on their development/acquisition radar.

LIONSGATE

In 2015 Lionsgate made a production deal with Hunan TV (A Chinese TV broadcaster).

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

They also announced Hunan TV would be investing $350 million USD to fund about 25% of a $1.5 billion dollar film and TV slate. In 2016 they (also) signed a movie licensing deal with iQiyi.

What’s the Bottom Line?  Lionsgate is very approachable. In fact, the President of International Film and TV Distribution (Mr. Peter Iacono) was the first guest on my podcast.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

In May 2017 Paramount announced it had a one-billion-dollar slate financing deal with Huahau Media and Shanghai Film Group.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

Paramount also signed deals with Jiaflix Enterprises and China Movie Channel.  However soon after – those deals were dead.  This is partly due to China’s crack down on capital flight. 

What’s the Bottom Line? After the success of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” you can bet Paramount will be mining its ‘toys to movies’ model for the near future. Writers take note – write a movie with toys.

SONY PICTURES

In Sept 2016 in the article Sony Pictures and China’s Wanda Enter Film partnership Wanda announced plans to invest in Sony’s movies. However, since then Wanda has pulled out of many filmmaking endeavours and the capital flight controls forced them to rethink their expansion plans.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

In 2016 Sony Pictures and iQIYI agreed to co-produce a Mandarin language version of the US TV series “Chosen”. This was a rare moment when a Hollywood studio would co-operate with a Chinese company to create a Chinese TV series.

Also in 2016, Sony launched a Chinese writer’s program where it invited a select group of Chinese writers to meet with Hollywood executives in the hopes of fostering collaboration.

Will China offer its own ‘Hollywood screenwriters meet Chinese executives’ initiative?

What’s the Bottom Line? Sony has proven to think outside the box with its bold moves such as creating a Chinese TV series and launching a Chinese writer’s program.

UNIVERSAL

In 2015 Universal announced it was opening a Universal Studios theme park in BeijingUniversal opened an office in Hong Kong this summer. It’s had an office in Beijing since 2014.

In the 2016 article Here’s Why China Is So Important to Universal Pictures, chairman Donna Langley reiterated how they view Chinese companies as potential partners – not competitors. Additionally, with the money it made in China (over $300 million USD) with its The Fast and The Furious series – future projects at the initial green light will undoubtedly be structured to appeal to the Chinese market.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

Perfect World who announced in 2016 Was Raising $500 Million to Co-Finance films with Universal Pictures.

What’s the Bottom Line? Universal’s Chairman Mr. Jeff Shell was quoted as saying “Animation is critical”. And they are keen to find the next franchise that appeals to China. Chances are it will be an animated movie. 

WALT DISNEY

Disney has a long history with China. It released “Snow White” there in 1938. It opened Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005 and Shanghai Disneyland in 2016.  Disney (which owns Pixar) has had a string of successful animated hits in China – The Jungle Book, Zootopia as well as live action hits like Captain America: Civil War.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

Alibaba – one of China’s largest internet companies, partnered with Walt Disney in 2018. The article Alibaba is helping Disney expand in China  mentioned that “As part of the deal, Alibaba will distribute more than 1,000 animated films and cartoons on its Youku video streaming platform.”

What’s the Bottom Line? Disney is famous for its animation.  Family friendly fare is your best bet.

WARNER BROTHERS

Years ago, Warner Brothers had a Chinese cinema joint venture. However, in 2005 the Chinese government changed regulations so that Chinese mainland investors would now own 51% or play a leading role in joint ventures.  Warner cut its losses and pulled out of the market.

However, Warner Brothers is glad it returned. Its latest blockbuster, Aquaman is a massive hit in China. In only three days after its release, it crossed the $100 million box office threshold.

WHO ARE THEIR CHINESE PARTNERS?

Additionally, Warner Brothers also partnered with the Chinese streaming giant iQIYI. The article Warner Bros Signs Streaming Deal with China’s iQiyi – said at the time the deal covered more than 200 films. In 2015 and Warner Brothers and China Media Capital (CMC) forged a joint venture – Flagship Entertainment Group to develop and produce a slate of Chinese–language films.

What’s the Bottom LineFlushed with Aquaman’s success in China – Warner Brothers will be eager to extend its winning streak. China-themed projects will be the hot ticket.

Well that’s the show. Thank you for listening. To show your support – go to iTunes, subscribe and leave a rating so other people can find this podcast. 

Lastly, I’m looking for more guests for my podcast. So spread the word. And if you’d like to join the podcast or would like to recommend a guest – send me an email at podcast@chinahollywoodgreenlight.com

And I’ll see you at the premiere.  Bye!

China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 22

Host: Caryn McCann

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CHGreenLight/

Twitter: @CHGreenLight

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/caryn-mccann

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