Will the Chinese Market Save the American Movie Industry From Itself?

Yesterday io9 released an interesting article about a report on China’s change in film consumption. Apparently the success of American films in the Chinese market has dwindled, and the Chinese viewership is spending more of their money on locally made films.

So why does this matter? Well for years now a great many number of American films have been able to recoup some of their losses in foreign markets if they didn’t manage to succeed in the United States. Pacific Rim is the most recent of these films, and while producers are talking about a sequel, the only reason they can even consider it is because of the film’s success in the Chinese market. But while Pacific Rim did succeed in China, many other American films are not as successful.

The reason seems, according to the report io9 references, that Chinese audiences are tired of the re-hashed films that flood the American market. While Hollywood is bent on generating sure profit through reboots, sequels, and highly visual movies with little reliance on storytelling, Chinese audiences are more captivated by the variety, originality, and higher focus on story that their local films seem to hold.

While I love my super hero films, and some reboots and sequels can be very exciting, there is a rather large dearth of originality in the American film market. Sure, we get a couple of good films every year that are not based on a YA book series or successful comic franchise. But all in all the majority of big films are either sequels to something that was successful or based on something that has already proven to be successful in another medium and therefore has a built in audience. There are way fewer original screenplays and ideas out there, at least in the mainstream.

I’ll be curious to see if these changes in China’s consumption patterns might change how Hollywood approaches making its films. Will they start giving more offbeat filmmakers a chance? Or perhaps they’ll start trying to tell more stories based on Asian culture to try and capitalize on that market? Alternatively maybe some of these reboot-sequel-fx horror shows will start to fail and be unable to recoup their money overseas, and perhaps that will make room for smaller films to invade the scene. After all, if the big budget films can’t profit, then maybe we’ll see more lower budget movies that are more creative.

It’s also possible that this won’t change anything, but I thought it was an interesting point, and I will be curious to see how this massive foreign market affects storytelling in the mainstream film medium.

And speaking of other cultures (and how good I am at transitions), I will actually be visiting England for almost two weeks starting tomorrow, and I will unfortunately not be updating the blog during that time. In case you miss my posts next week, now you know why they aren’t happening, but you can expect more from me after the 24th when I get back.

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