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Halle Berry, Guillermo del Toro, Charlie Hunnam and Jeffrey Katzenberg took home top honors at China’s equivalent of the Oscars, the Huading Awards, held for the first time in the U.S. at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night. The live telecast reached more than 800 million viewers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where 80 million fans voted for the best in the film industry, signaling an evolving relationship between the U.S. and Chinese film market.
Del Toro received the best global director award and expressed that his film Pacific Rim was an example of his respect for and his serious partnership with China.
“I first went to Hong Kong as a very young man, and I found it so unique and so beautiful at age 22 that I thought one day I’ll put it in a movie,” said Del Toro. “I tried to reproduce what made it so magical and rich for me. When a movie finds an audience as vast and as loving as Pacific Rim was able to find in China, it’s a very special moment for a filmmaker.”
Del Toro also hinted at the possible sequel for Pacific Rim when speaking with reporters backstage.
“Many, many countries in the Pacific Rim are mentioned or have moments in the film, and we tried to research and treat each of the images of those countries with a lot of care and attention to detail,” said Del Toro. “Hopefully for Pacific Rim we can go to some of them for the sequel, yes?”
Berry was named best global icon, Jeremy Renner was awarded best global supporting actor and Orlando Bloom won for best global actor icon. Composer Hans Zimmer was presented with the lifetime achievement award for his motion picture scores that helped bring countless films, including The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean, to life, but he said he preferred calling it the “just getting started” award.
“While everyone used to be in school, I used to sneak off and watch kung fu movies,” said Zimmer. “My dream came true when I was asked to do Kung Fu Panda. All this time of not actually spending time at school actually paid off well, but I’m not sure you should emulate this.”
Hosted by actress Lucy Liu and Chinese television personality Olivia Xu, the show featured performances from Jabbawockeez (winners of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew), the Shaolin Warriors, The Voice China winner Summer Jikejunyi, and magician Master Zhao. Zoe Saldana was recognized as best global supporting actress, Bradley Cooper was voted as best global actor and actors Jordana Brewster and Tyrese Gibson accepted the best global movie award for Fast & Furious 6 in memory of Paul Walker. On the red carpet, Brewster said it was difficult shooting the seventh installment of the franchise following the loss of Walker, who died in November 2013.
DreamWorks CEO Katzenberg accepted the best global film award for The Croods and reminded the audience about the third Kung Fu Panda film slated to be released in China. Brett Ratner greeted the audience speaking Mandarin and previewed a clip of his new film, Hercules, which will star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While the Oscars this year rose to 43.7 million viewers, the Huading awards reaches one of the largest audiences celebrating the achievements of many prominent American entertainers with an additional 400 million watching online.
“I find it incredibly gratifying and rewarding as a filmmaker to have recognition with 80 million that liked the movie,” said Del Toro. “That’s impossible almost to imagine in any other award. It’s such a massive outpouring of affection for a film that to a filmmaker is like a child. It’s 80 million people saying they like my child, which is absolutely awesome.”
Since 2006, the Beijing-based media company Global Talents Media Group has recognized talent in entertainment and athletics. Producer-director Don Mischer, who is no stranger to producing some of America’s most-watched productions such as the Oscars, the Emmy Awards, Super Bowl halftime shows and President Brack Obama’s inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, said with more of an exchange between cultures in the creative areas he wanted to take a baby step toward producing the Huading Awards.
“Here in Hollywood, people understand the importance of the Chinese audience,” Mischer told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re in Hollywood because it kind of makes sense to be here, since most of their favorites [in China] are based in Hollywood and it’s something they wanted to try, so we’ll see how it works. It’s not big scale now, it’s small red carpet, small theater, but this thing could catch on, and it could really build into something more significant because you’ve got the two largest movie markets in the world here.”
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