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China and Britain have formally ratified a film co-production treaty, which will allow co-productions to sidestep the quota system for foreign films in the world’s second-biggest movie market.
The treaty, which was brokered by the British Film Institute and announced last April, was signed by British culture secretary Sajid Javid and Tong Gang, the vice minister of the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television, at the GREAT Festival of Creativity on the historic Bund waterfront in Shanghai.
“This treaty is a breakthrough for U.K. and Chinese production companies,” said Javid. “It will pave the way for U.K. producers and their Chinese counterparts to share their creative expertise and make incredible films that will be enjoyed around the world.”
Miao Xiaotian, president of the China Film Co-production Corporation, said the signing marked “the start of a new era in collaborative film production between the U.K. and China.”
“I have reason to believe that it will open the way for broader cooperation between our respective film industries. We can look forward to a future of integrated development and win-win cooperation,” said Miao.
The treaty will allow qualifying co-productions to access national benefits in both countries, including sources of financing and an easier distribution route to audiences. In the U.K., this includes the Film Tax Relief and the BFI Film Fund, which is the U.K.’s largest public film fund, the BFI said.
The GREAT Festival is part of a major British charm offensive aimed at improving British access to the booming Chinese market. Prince William is heading up a delegation that is hoping to promote the U.K.’s entertainment industry, and this week officially launched the U.K.-China Year of Cultural Exchange in Beijing, which is aimed at showcasing innovative U.K. culture in China and Chinese culture in the U.K.
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said the treaty “opens the door to a relationship with the largest growing film industry in the world, allowing our filmmakers to collaborate with and contribute to this success story.”
British filmmakers hope the treaty will open up the Chinese market for British cinema. China’s current quota system means just 34 foreign films a year are allowed in on a revenue-sharing basis.
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