Berlin: Europe Studios Cheer Signs of Expanding China Quota

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The country is predicted to add at least a dozen films to the quota, due to an expiring trade pact. Says one exec: “It’s really good news for the industry and more specifically for indie production."

Mounting indications that China is preparing to loosen its infamous quota on foreign film imports had European studio executives cautiously optimistic on day two of the European Film Market.

Since 2012, China has limited foreign movies to just 34 titles per year on revenue-sharing terms. But a five-year trade pact is set to expire later this month, bringing U.S. and Chinese officials and industry advocates back to the negotiating table.

"Every opening of the market improves the situation,” said Martin Moszkowicz, executive chairman at Constantin Film, whose Resident Evil — The Final Chapter will be released in China early this year.

The Global Times, an influential Chinese state-backed newspaper, predicted Friday that the country would add at least a dozen films to the quota. It also forecast that the share of box-office revenue that international distributors are entitled to will move from the current 25 percent towards the international average of 40 percent.

While Hollywood stands to gain the most from such a move, an expanded quota could also be a boon to studios from Europe and other territories. Traditionally, U.S. studio titles have taken up the lion’s share of China’s 34 release slots. However, more overall imports could mean new openings for non-Hollywood pictures.

“It’s really good news for the industry and more specifically for indie production,” said Rodolphe Buet, deputy CEO of StudioCanal. “The rising revenue share will allow us to substitute revenues from some more challenging parts of the world and maintain the level of our investments to maintain Studiocanal’s high-quality production.”