Poster of Sino-American production "Snow Flake & Secret Fan" [Photo: douban.com]
The fact that no Chinese movies have ever won an Oscar may bother some. But as years go by, China's movie market is gradually opening up, and Chinese movie makers are learning to embrace the world. Our reporter Mu Fangzhou had a little discussion with industry insiders to get their thoughts on the collaboration between Chinese and foreign movie companies.
From Bruce Lee to Kung-fu Panda, Chinese elements have always made their marks on the world's movie scene, but in actual life, sino-foreign co-productions didn't really begin until a few years ago.
Katterin Wu, head of int'l business of Dadi Century Film Distribution, said, "There are some basic rules: At least one third of the film budget shall be invested by Chinese company; at least one third cast members shall be Chinese, and the story must be connected with Chinese elements."
The trend of integration appears more frequently than ever in the movie business. Hollywood movies are no longer produced with an exclusively American mindset, as they often serve movie fans all over the globe. Blockbusters like "Harry Potter" and the "Transformers" series only collected 30 percent of their global box office grosses from the United States.
With the total number of cinemas rising steadily, China is now considered one of the biggest-grossing countries outside the United States. For Hollywood, co-producing a movie has become the best way to seize a spot in the domestic screening schedule. Take "Snow Flake & Secret Fan" as an example. Chinese-American director Wayne Wang has Chinese actress Li Bingbing and South Korean actress Gianna Jun as the leads, a guest appearance from Australian actor Hugh Jackman, and an original score by British composer Rachel Portman. In the movie, Chinese aesthetics are shown to the world in an international way.
Katterin Wu said, "Each nation has its very own identity that may be hard to comprehend. In the eyes of many westerners, Chinese stories are sophisticated. They don't understand the movie because they don't understand our history. Co-producing a movie is the process of how movie makers from different cultures find the balance between each other, making it easier to be understood by a global audience."
In the meantime, domestic producers are reaching out not only for investments, but also cutting-edge talent. Internationally trained cinematographers, music composers and those with a global cinematic philosophy can make their works better, and thus more widely accepted by an international audience.
Guo Haowei, head of film scoring dept. of Beijing Contemporary Music Academy, said, "We have to admit that western countries, as well as Japan, are leading the world's movie industry. As a result, if Chinese movie makers want to promote their work at a global level, they should try to internationalize their productions in aspects such as screenplay, original scores and visual designs. On the other hand, it's an opportunity to see how the foreign counterparts sketch our own culture."
Furthermore, joint-ventures are established for further cooperation between China and the Occidental world. Animated classic "The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven" is now upgraded to 3D format with the help from Technicolor, a world leading company of high-end visual effects. DreamWorks also plans to set up a joint production company in Shanghai, aiming to help critically acclaimed Chinese films break through barriers at the foreign box office. And the collaboration is seen possibly to expand into other areas, such as casting, distribution and copyright.
CCTV's Mu Fangzhou said, "The forms may be different, but ultimately, it's the chemistry between people from different backgrounds that make the silver screen sparkle. The further success of Chinese cinema depends on this integration of China into the global village."