(photos courtesy of Warner Brothers and Manifest films)

“Is the world ready for positive Chinese images in media?”

At the US-China Film Summit, that was the question raised by Peter Shiao, chairman of media and entertainment of the Asia Society, Southern California as well as CEO of ORB Media Group. His vice chairman, Michael Corrigan, replied that the world was beyond that; that race was a “non-issue.” That sparked jeers in the packed theater and shouts of “bullsh–.

A Chinese panelist stated that it no matter how big a budget a Chinese film has, it wouldn’t get more than 400 screens in the US. For every Ninja Assassin and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon hitting the large metroplexes, there are scores of international hits such as Red Cliff and Warlords that never get beyond art houses and festivals here.

Behind the scenes however, conditions have changed. Uber-producer Janet Yang stated that China and Hollywood are now on an even playing ground. Stephen Saltzman, partner at Loeb and Loeb, reasoned that now in conducting business with Asian countries, Hollywood — and America — has to be less self-centric in their manner. In a sense, Hollywood has to drop its John Wayne, take-no-prisoners manner and adapt, as opposed to mandate.

It has to act less “center of the world” when dealing with the middle kingdom — China.

As Dong Yu, president of Polybona Fillm Distribution Company, said, “The Chinese know America but not vice-versa.”

The dollar doldrums is why America no longer has the upper hand. A change is a necessary safeguard for economic viability. But however dire the straits, are we willing?

“Hollywood is not good at making money for its partners,” said James D. Stern of Endgame Entertainment.

Ken Stovitz was perplexed as to why his Karate Kid remake did well everywhere except China. Yang relayed what she had heard: that the film depicted an outdated representation of Beijing and China; coupled with the fact that all the bad guys were Chinese, this caused the Chinese audience to stay away. In a 48.4 billion dollar industry, that’s a huge loss for a movie with Jackie Chan not to make a dent.

Thus filmic representations have to change along with the shifts in power and money.

But considering the recent spate of anti-Chinese advertising for the midterm elections, we may not want to hold our breaths.

– Former Link: http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/blog/archive/2010/11/screen-scene-hollywood-meet-china#sthash.7rtu4b9c.dpuf

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