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BEIJING — MPAA president Christopher Dodd is confident that China’s quota system restricting foreign movie imports to 34 titles a year will be lifted in coming years as Beijing honors its regulatory responsibilities.
The world’s second-largest film market signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on its current quota system with the World Trade Organization in 2012, valid for five years. This means the second round of negotiations will start in February 2017.
Dodd said he was hopeful that a deal on expanding the quota of films on a revenue-shar basis would be reached by then.
“We are almost at the halfway point now since the MOU was signed, and we are optimistic that we can expand the quota in the coming years — 34 films was prescribed as a minimum under the MOU,” Dodd said on the fringes of the Beijing International Film Festival, which runs through Wednesday.
China raised the number of foreign films that can be imported on a revenue-sharing basis to 34 from 20 in 2012.
Hollywood has long pushed for free trade in the booming Chinese film market, and Dodd’s remarks are in line with comments by producer and CCTV executive Lu Hongshi, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter last week, that the quota would be lifted by 2017/2018 and that China’s filmmakers needed to be ready to face the challenge of greater Hollywood competition.
There has been much speculation about what form the quota changes will take.
Industry sources told THR recently that the quota looks set to be increased by 10 movies to include “prestige” films, art-house movies and Oscar winners.
These movies don’t significantly threaten the box office of domestic films, but help China sweeten its relationship with Hollywood and meet its World Trade Organization obligations.
Chinese box office was $3.6 billion last year and is on pace for $5 billion this year. The past few months have seen a fistful of tie-ups between U.S. and China companies.
Last week, China’s state-owned film company China Film Group made an “eight-figure” equity investment in two forthcoming projects by Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment feature-film projects, Seventh Son and Warcraft.
The investment marked the first time the state film colossus China Film has taken a stake in Hollywood pics.
Shanghai Media Group, China’s second-biggest media group, signed a multiyear deal with Walt Disney Studios to co-develop Disney-branded movies for China and elsewhere, while Huayi Bros. is planning to inject up to $150 million into former Warner Bros.’ chief Jeff Robinov‘s Studio 8.
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