Is China going to replace Hollywood as the hub of global filmmaking talent? Some Chinese and Hollywood filmmakers vote yes.
"The investors in China's film market are entrepreneurs with innovative teams, while Hollywood is producing more sequels and lacks innovation," Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group, said Sunday at a seminar on China-foreign co-productions hosted by the Beijing International Film Festival.
"The young Hollywood and Asian directors who can't get support from big Hollywood studios will come to China because Chinese capital is overflowing," said Mr. Yu, whose company recently delisted from the Nasdaq stock market and has won investments from arms of Chinese Internet giants including Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
The seminar was attended by a number of big-name Western filmmakers including veteran British producer Iain Smith, whose recent productions include "Mad Max: Fury Road", and American actress Natalie Portman, who brought her directorial debut "A Tale of Love and Darkness" to this year's festival.
James Schamus, an award-winning American screenwriter and producer, said at the seminar that China is helping to "create a new Hollywood".
Joe Russo, the director of Marvel's "Captain America" franchise, said in a separate interview on Sunday that a growing number of Hollywood producers are coming to China for both "economic and artistic reasons." "The film market in the U.S. is becoming more and more about branded content, the safe play," said Mr. Russo. "There's no room in Hollywood unless you plan a superhero film or Star Wars." "China is an explosive market, so it's absolutely another option for filmmakers," he said, adding that he and his brother, Anthony Russo, are becoming frequent visitors to Beijing in search of "new voices and new experiences."
The Russo brothers first came to China in 2014 to promote "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." They are now setting up Anthem Pictures, a startup studio that will produce Chinese-language films targeting local audiences. Its principal investor is Chinese private-equity fund HDQH, which has already invested $100 million in the venture, according to Mr. Russo.
The studio plans to release two films by 2018. One of the projects under development is helmed by a young Chinese director and features an original story about a Chinese superhero. As producers, Mr. Russo said he and his brother aim to help Chinese filmmakers "make a movie correctly" based on their years of experience in the business.
It appears to be the right time for Western filmmaking talents to bring their know-how to Chinese cinemas, as Chinese audiences are showing growing interest in domestic productions over Hollywood blockbusters.