China Unveils Tax Breaks, Funding to Boost Local Film Industry

The policy document from major ministries is aimed at making the film business in China more competitive.

The Chinese government has unveiled a major policy document from several ministries designed to boost the film industry, with tax incentives and a fund to support certain state-approved movies.

The measures are aimed at “enhancing the overall strength and competitiveness of Chinese films,” the finance ministry said in a statement on its website.

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The funds will be aimed at developing the film industry to promote high-tech production. A fund will allocate $16 million (100 million yuan) every year to support between five and 10 films with “influential themes.” It will also finance “competitive films,” support Chinese films overseas and offer assistance for more professional movie website design.

The proposed tax incentives could have a major impact locally. A film company's income from copyright transfer, film distribution and screenings in villages and rural areas will be exempt from tax. There will also be tax exemptions for distribution in central and western China, where much of the country's rapid cinema building is underway.

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Banks and financial institutions will be encouraged to invest in the film industry and issue company bonds. There will also be support for investing in theater construction.

The increase in the number of screens has driven the dramatic rise of the Chinese film market. By the end of March, the total number of screens in China was more than 20,000. As recently as 2010, the figure was only about 6,200.

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Last year, 14 screens were added per day, on average, and a total of 5,077 screens were added over the course of the year. In the first five months of this year, 420 movie theaters were added, in comparison with the 358 during the same period in 2013, industry tracker Entgroup said.

The statement was jointly issued by China's Finance Ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Land, the Housing Ministry and the Urban People's Bank of China, as well as the Press and Publication Administration of Taxation and the State Administration of Radio.