'Knowing' lands China bow
One of 20 annual foreign-made features to be approvedDMG, a Chinese-American media company, and Summit have managed to get the Nicolas Cage thriller "Knowing" into one of the 20 annual theatrical film slots for foreign-made movies controlled by the China Film Group.
CFG oversees annual legal film imports and controls the majority of foreign theatrical releases with Huaxia Film Distribution Co. The move is a coup for both DMG and Summit, as the quota system in the country favors films coming out of the big Hollywood studios -- think "Transformers," "Terminator Salvation," "Ice Age" and "Harry Potter."
Unlike the majors, Summit does not have offices in China but its partner DMG -- an advertising firm with 16 years' experience in China and offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles -- used its knowledge of the Chinese marketplace and bureaucracy to position the film so as to nab one of the coveted spots.
The film's acceptance is a testament to Cage's stature as an international draw, and could be significant financially. For most U.S. movies released in China, their distributors receive a flat fee between $10,000 and $75,000. Under the CFG, studios receive a percentage of the gross, usually about 13%. With the Chinese boxoffice growing at a speedy clip (2008's boxoffice was $635 million and could reach $750 million this year), the windfall can be considerable.
DMG hopes "Knowing" will be released on 1,000-plus screens in the fall. Industry observers in Beijing are uncertain, however, as the Communist Party will celebrate 60 years in power Oct. 1 and expect there will be a moratorium on foreign films in this period.
Jonathan Landreth in Beijing contributed to this report.