18 Jun 3 WAYS FOR HOLLYWOOD AND CHINA TO COMBINE THEIR STRENGTHS
How do American and Chinese film executives pool their respective strengths? First – what are these strengths?
Hollywood has been a master at exporting its movies abroad thus giving America enormous soft power. China wants to export its culture too but has hit stumbling blocks.
As mentioned in my previous blog post – one Chinese executive suggested Hollywood’s advantage is its masterful ability to develop scripts.
China’s film market is now part of the equation for Hollywood studios. In the Deadline.com article “China As Holy Grail & Headache: How It’s Influencing Hollywood Strategy” quoted a dealmaker who worked in both the US and China as saying, “The same way everyone got dependent on home entertainment dollars the studios are dependent on China dollars.” The article went on to point out that studios are now including China grosses in the budget process which could be disastrous if you don’t hit the numbers in China.
1. USE A STORY STRUCTURE THAT IS GLOBALLY APPEALING
Hollywood scripts use a story structure that is globally appealing. Its movies have done record numbers domestically and abroad. The same isn’t true for Chinese blockbusters trying to cross over to international markets.
In the THR article “Hollywood and China: A Fad or Future of the Film Industry“, Bob Simonds, Chairman, and CEO of China-backed STX Entertainment said “Americans have conditioned the world to consume a story a certain way. The key is to merge or create a new syntax that’s equally global.”
Additionally, Jim Gianopulos was quoted in this same article as saying: “If China is going to develop an export business, it needs a willingness to accept diversity or that possibility that it may not be as rooted in the cultural form that it started with. That may be something to learn from Hollywood.”
But what can Hollywood learn from China? Hollywood may be ahead of the development game with China – but China has proved a master at targeted messaging. While at the AFM last year, I attended the China Conference panel where Luke Xiang, VP head of International for Beijing Weying Tech – a mobile ticket booking startup – said “The smart money was on very targeted messaging. You need to build a connection with users.”
Which means you should…
2. JOIN FORCES WITH A CHINESE PARTNER FOR DIGITAL MARKETING
In the article “China’s Movie Ticket King on What Studios Can Learn About Digital Marketing” Mr. Xiang explained how Weying’s mobile ticketing service is used on WeChat and QQ – both services have over 800 million users. The audience uses Weying to buy movie tickets, check showtimes, etc. This generates data. Mr. Xiang calls this “…the movie-going DNA of each individual audience member. We know their movie-going history in every detail: what kind of movies they like; what time they go to the movies.” This data is then used to enhance digital marketing and distribution in a laser-like targeted way.
He went on to say how they can mine that data to advise previous users about their (targeted) upcoming theater content and offer to sell seats. Afterward, Weying can ask if the patron would like to review the film, share it on social media or buy some licensed product that they can buy instantly on their platform. And of course – all this mines even more data.
Hollywood story structure and Chinese digital marketing is a powerful combination. But what else can you do to ensure a successful co-production? You can…
3. ADD A CHINESE-AMERICAN TO YOUR TEAM
In the THR article “Hollywood and China: A Fad or Future of the Film Industry?” Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO of East West Bank said: “There are a lot of Chinese Americans aspiring to be in this industry…Hopefully smart execs on both ends will look into Chinese Americans, who are totally bicultural and understand what needs to be done to make co-productions effective and profitable, and start tapping into these folks who are very good at making movies as well.”
In my next blog post – I will discuss ways American and Chinese film companies can find Chinese-Americans (or American’s who have Chinese film experience) to add to their team.