No Easy Wooing of Chinese Film Goers

Will an increased inflow of Hollywood blockbusters like Spider Man, Matrix and the Mission Impossible series tap deeper into the pockets of Chinese consumers in the post-World Trade Organization era?

Not really.

About 43.7 percent of respondents of the latest survey by the China Economic Monitoring & Analysis Center remained doubtful that more imported movies will entice rising numbers of Chinese movie goers.

However, their opinions were challenged by 40.7 percent of the respondents who said more imported movies would woo larger audiences.

Only 4.3 percent of those surveyed believed that box office earnings will drop after the Chinese government relaxes its tight control over the number of foreign movies allowed to be shown in the country annually.

The poll, released yesterday, reached over 700 residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the pivotal urban hubs of the entertainment business in China.

The survey also found that 81.5 percent of the interviewees said they would go to the cinema more often if there were foreign-funded movie theaters with upgraded facilities and services.

Movie operators in China have looked forward to a golden time for profits in the wake of the WTO entry as a total of 20 Hollywood movies will be allowed to be shown annually in China, compared to the 10 currently allowed.

Since late 1994, about 70 Hollywood blockbusters have been introduced into the Chinese market, and they have dominated the domestic film market in terms of box office revenues of the major movie theaters.

But not everyone is pleased.

The opening-up spells an uphill battle for Chinese-owned film and entertainment producers who have found themselves being dwarfed by giant foreign competitors.

Chinese officials have made it clear that domestic filmmakers have to face up directly to foreign rivalry after a three-year grace period following China's WTO admission.

(China Daily May 14, 2002)

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