No other place on earth can compete China for enthusiasm for Hollywood movies. Proof is in how much audiences will pay out of pocket to go to the theatre to see blockbusters like Transformers or in how much super-rich investors are willing to shell out to get into the game of producing them.
In just 11 days, Transformers: Age of Extinction earned US$212 million in Mainland China, 10 times more than the US$21 million the movie earned in South Korea and far, far higher than the US$6 million earned in Malaysia or the US$4 million it earned in Hong Kong, Singapore or Thailand.
The love of movies translates into big bucks and greater recognition, not only of actors and directors but also of brands and products thanks to product placement strategies that are increasingly sophisticated. Film producers are more than happy to see both the boom in the box office and the investments that Asians are willing to put up, as this story in China Daily Asia Weekly explores.
And product placement is just the first step. Both Chinese brands and Hollywood producers are eyeing on more intense collaboration. Chinese brands are using Transformers elements on their advertising, packaging or store designs while Hollywood producers are using Chinese brands to reach greater audiences.
Not only has Hollywood sensed the opportunities in China. Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korean companies are all participating in co-productions with Mainland China. They have set up offices in Beijing or Shanghai and often undertake actual operations from there, from shooting to creating special effects.
Just two weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Korea and the two countries singed an agreement to bypass film import quotas in China to boost Sino-ROK co-productions. This is just more evidence that China is looking to benefit from the entertainment industry.
Chinese businessmans also have sensed the opportunities. Baidu, Wanda Group and Fosun International are all investing in Hollywood.