Back in February, the U.S. and China agreed to significantly increase the number of imported films allowed to be shown in Chinese movie theaters. The move has “shaken” the local industry, radio-film-TV vice minister Tian Jin said today in Beijing. “This has brought handsome profits to the American film industry, but has also posed pressure and challenge to the Chinese film industry,” he commented at a press conference on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s 18th congress, AFP reports. “Domestic films are facing great pressure,” said Tian, who vice minister of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. “The objective reason is that more foreign films in the Chinese market have dealt a blow to domestic films, and the subjective reason is that the domestic film industry needs to be more competitive,” he said. Box office is up 40% on last year, Tian noted, at $2.1B as of the end of October. However, the local share of that pie was only 40%.
Recently, there’s been some controversy about China scheduling big U.S. movies against each other – in August, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man opened head-to-head and a month earlier Ice Age: Continental Drift and The Lorax also faced off. But Tian denied that Beijing had imposed restrictions on the scheduling of foreign films. “The release schedule of films is purely a market act,” he said, responding to a question about a month-long restriction – also known as a blackout period – on foreign films. The state-owned China Film Group oversees the release of imported movies but Tian maintained that “the government will never impose a schedule to any film or release.”