Sony Pictures Chief Tom Rothman Sets China Screenwriter Initiative

Tom Rothman
Associated Press

BREAKING: On the heels of its new alliance with Dalian Wanda designed to better launch its global tentpole films in China, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman tonight unveiled a Writers Initiative where the studio will host emerging and established writers from China. They will meet established Hollywood film and TV execs and scribes to exchange ideas and collaborate on ideas for Hollywood films and Hollywood/China co-productions. The goal will be to set some of the participants into yearlong first-look deals to hopefully generate films for the studio. Rothman revealed the initiative at the sixth Annual China International Co-Production Film Screenings.

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Sony will select four writers at a time for two-week stays in Los Angeles at Sony Pictures Studios, where they will take an itinerary of meetings, mutual education and discussion. The final selection among the candidates will be made by a committee with representatives from Columbia Pictures; Sony Pictures International Productions, China; and Film Bureau, State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film & TV, People’s Republic of China (Film Bureau).

The new program was developed with Sony Pictures China, and it will be overseen by Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch, who has spent the past few years putting together local-language productions for Fox and then Sony. Rothman said the goal is for writers and executives to gain the unique perspective of creative voices from China – one of the world’s most important film markets – and for Chinese writers to meet Hollywood writers to enrich this collaboration.

“The screenplay is the foundation of everything we do – it all starts with the writer,” Rothman said. “So as we look to make great content for global audiences, it’s critical that the writers we work with both here and in China understand each other’s cultures. That’s the goal of this program; we can support that dialogue by fostering cooperation between writers to receive each other’s perspective, which will benefit Hollywood, Chinese-language films, and Chinese co-productions.”

Said MPAA chairman/CEO Chris Dodd: “We thank Sony Pictures Studios for hosting this year’s China International Co-production Film Screenings – an event we began six years ago here in Los Angeles. Over the years, the program has enabled us to showcase some of the best films China has co-produced with international partners. With the launch of the China Writers Initiative, we are pleased to see Sony cooperating with some of the most promising Chinese filmmakers in a program that puts quality screenplays at the focus of potential new co-productions. As China continues on its path to become the largest theatrical market in the world, partnerships between Hollywood and China will mutually benefit our two great film industries and economies.”

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