China Film Player Wants to End Censorship

2012-23 REP Wang Jianlin H

Wang suggests decentralizing film approvals.

Wand Jialin, CEO of Chinese real estate and film behemoth Dalian Wanda Group, instantly became a major Hollywood player in May when his company bought AMC Entertainment -- North America's second-largest theater chain -- for an eye-popping $2.6 billion. The deal raised concerns in the U.S. because it means Wanda, which has close ties to the often-draconian Chinese government, will control a major slice of movie screens in America and the rapidly expanding China market.

But in an interview with THR, Wanda's 58-year-old multibillionaire chairman says such Sino-paranoia is misplaced. Speaking from his Beijing office, Wang says he believes China's censorship regime needs to be dropped or significantly reformed for the Chinese film industry to flourish -- an uncommon assessment from a registered member of the Communist Party who also sits on China's top advisory council and is the country's sixth-richest individual. "I think we should lose the censorship and approval system," says Wang. "The problem with our system is that there is only one authority -- the [State Administration of Radio, Film and Television] -- with a small number of people who are in charge of the approval of all films, which takes a long time."

Wang wants to decentralize the approval process and assign it to local governments, which would likely allow foreign films -- including Hollywood tentpoles -- to bypass long-standing content restrictions and avoid such re-editing as censors' recent removal of Kate Winslet's nude scene in Titanic 3D. "If we let different provincial governments handle the approval of various films, we can learn what works," says Wang. "If that can be achieved, I believe the film industry of China can prosper."