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Why Hollywood no longer has access to China
rediff Entertainment Bureau | December 07, 2007 16:50 IST
Those travelling to China between now and May 2008 may have to forego the simple pleasure of a Hollywood flick at a local cinema in that country. According to a report in The Independent, UK, China has banned Hollywood films -- until February and, possibly, until May -- over a trade row with the United States.
The enormous success enjoyed by Hollywood films has, apparently, hit local films rather hard at the box office. That America continues to sell arms to Taiwan hasn't made Chinese authorities happy either.
Going by a report in the Hollywood Reporter, US film studio executives believe the alleged ban will be the harshest protectionist measure yet put in place by state media regulators, considering the period of the ban is, in effect, China's peak movie-going season.
Chinese and Asian arms of major US studios haven't been given any release slots for the first two months of 2008. Traditionally, Hollywood films are submitted to China's main film bureau and censor, the State Administration of Radio Film & Television, before approval.
There may be more to this than mere box office supremacy, of course. A report at BeyondHollywood.com cites other reasons for the ban. First, it claims this is another example of the growing rift between China and the US. Some also believe it is retaliation against the Motion Picture Association's studio members for persuading the Office of the US Trade Representative to take action against China through the World Trade Organization over intellectual property protection and market access. Recently, China also objected to the US Congress honouring the Dalai Lama [Images].
For local filmmakers, the ban may be welcome. After all, the biggest hit in China this year was the Hollywood biggie Transformers. The only film bigger was Titanic [Images]. Regular blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Spider-Man 3 [Images] have also performed extremely well. All this despite the massive problems Hollywood continues to have with movie and music piracy in China.
The screening of foreign films is usually restricted to just 20 annually, to help boost local movies. Regular blackout periods for foreign films aren't completely new either. Still, this year has already seen one major shutdown. Between 15 September and 30 October, China celebrated its Outstanding Golden Domestic Film Exhibition Month, allowing only patriotic home-produced fare to be shown. Other freezes were held in June, July and August.
For now, those hoping to catch Stardust, Beowulf [Images] or Bee Movie in China may want to consider flying someplace else instead.