Jackie Chan: Hollywood competition means better China films

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Beijing (AP) — Jackie Chan says letting more Hollywood movies into the Chinese market would pressure Chinese filmmakers to make better films.

Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan speaks to the media at a press conference in Beijing, Tuesday, March 7. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan speaks to the media at a press conference in Beijing, Tuesday, March 7. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

China sets a quota on the number of foreign movies allowed to be shown in the country, trying to fend off a cinematic wave that could swamp local filmmakers and loosen the ruling Communist Party’s grip on culture.

However, competition can be good, Chan said.

“It is this pressure that makes our filmmakers work harder and shoot better films,” Chan told reporters at a news conference in Beijing.  “If we had shot our own films behind closed doors without any competition, we wouldn’t have had the growth in box office we have today.”

The Hong Kong action star is a member of the official advisory body to the national legislature.  Negotiators from China and the U.S. are expected to reach a new agreement this year on how many foreign films to allow into China, now the world’s the second-biggest movie market after North America.  An expanded quota would mean more competition for domestic films, which last year accounted for 58 percent of the total box office, or 26.7 billion yuan ($3.8 billion).

In 2012, then-Vice President Xi Jinping and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden negotiated a five-year deal to allow 34 foreign films to be shown in Chinese cinemas each year on a revenue-sharing basis.  State media reports have suggested that a new deal could see the quota increased by 10 films or more.

In addition to the quota, a handful of extra Hollywood movies were let in last year to try to boost a disappointing slowdown in box office receipts.

Apart from expanding the quota, Hollywood executives hope to increase their share of ticket sales in China from the current 25 percent.  They receive 40 percent of ticket revenues in other markets.

It’s unclear how much effort President Donald Trump’s administration will put into promoting Hollywood’s interests in China.  Trump has been criticized by various Hollywood stars and fired off his own insults at others.