A new license for the import and distribution of foreign movies in China has been given to a second state-run company, breaking the monopoly previously held by China Film Group, in a move predicted to improve the partnership between Hollywood and China, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The new import and distribution license goes to the state-backed China National Culture & Art Corporation (CNCAC), which is linked to the Ministry of Culture. Two Hong Kong firms, i-Marker and China Railsmedia, will collaborate with CNCAC in importing and distributing foreign movies, breaking China Film’s monopoly on distributing revenue-sharing movies in such an enormous film market.
Chris Lee, former head of Columbia TriStar Pictures and a producer on projects such as Superman Returns and Valkyrie, is joining China Railsmedia Group as its president, which could prove to be a significant boon in facilitating cooperation between the new importer and Hollywood.
Currently the only company that holds an import and distribution license is China Film Group, through which state-owned Huaxia has a license to distribute films.
The news follows previous reports that the Film Bureau in Beijing had been considering raising the quota of foreign films released in China to 44, a move that would improve relations between Hollywood and the world’s second-biggest box office market.
US films account for the majority of foreign films released in China, although Chinese censors remain one of the greatest hurdles for foreign filmmakers looking to get their movies on the market.
It’s not clear if more films will be imported from overseas under the new license or if the quota, currently at 34, will be decided between the two companies.
“It is not likely to translate into an increase in the quota system immediately. The aim is to put this on a business footing and make it a success. They will probably each have 17 films, but that is unlikely to happen immediately, as CNCAC doesn’t have the infrastructure,” a source told THR.