Welcome to the first installment of China Film File, a weekly brief on the business of movies in China. In today’s news: China’s 3D spectacular Detective Dee comes to Rome, Bona Film Group’s quarterly shine, and the beginning of the end of China’s online piracy.
- As online streaming business blossoms in China, streaming media company Youku Toudou and film industry heavyweight Dalian Wanda Group, among others, finally want people to actually pay for films and television shows, and are now suing web conglomerate Baidu for a total of $49 million in damages due to the accessibility of illegal sharing sites through the companies’ online network. In the recent past, internet piracy of film and television content has run more or less totally rampant. However, the realization that China is about to be the world’s biggest online market has a bevy of film companies rushing to clamp down and attempt to reclaim their losses due to file sharing.
- In order to further patronize China’s ethnic minorities, the Chinese government is commissioning “depoliticized” films about the mainland’s 55 other indigenous cultures.
- Rome Film Festival Director Marco Mueller decided to add Chinese films to the programming at Rome’s cinema-party this year, bringing a festival premiere for 3D martial arts spectacular Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon and Chinese rocker Cui Jian’s rock and roll hacker-cum-Cultural Revolution drama Blue Sky Bones. Previously heading the Venice Film Festival, the Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking Mueller is definitely looking to push an East-meets-West orientation for the festival, stating to Variety that “Rome is becoming the natural connecting point between the European industry and the BRIC countries.”
- Beijinger reports that to accommodate the expected six million moviegoers this year alone, 10 new movie screens are opening in China every day. That’s at least five screens built by the time you’ve eaten lunch.
- China’s Bona Film Group, a fifth of which is owned by Rupert Murdoch with another stake of 6.4 percent recently acquired by Chinese investment group Fosun, is optimistic about 2014, reporting quarterly profits of $2.8 million—double the earnings of the same time a year ago. Playing to current market demands, Bona’s upcoming releases consist of multiple high-concept thrillers and action movies including Overheard 3, the new installment of a popular franchise about the seedy underworld of corporate surveillance in Hong Kong.