Hollywood cozies up to China

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the chief of the Motion Picture Association of America, on Monday evening hailed the emerging partnership between the Chinese film industry and Hollywood as good for the movie business.

In remarks before a screening of the U.S.-China co-produced film “Man of Tai Chi” at Universal Studios, Dodd said “the increasing level of exchanges” between the two countries’ film industries has had a positive impact.

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“Along with the increasing level of exchanges between our two film industries, more partnerships have been formed; more cinemas have been built; more films have been produced and shown in both of our nations,” the MPAA chairman said at the opening night of the 3rd annual Chinese International Co-Production Film Week.

Dodd lauded the growth of the Chinese film industry, saying the country’s box office grew from $120 million to $2.7 billion over the past decade.

“It is my hope that we can continue to build the friendship and the cooperation we have established over these last [few] years to create a market environment that will sustain the long-term growth for both the Chinese and U.S. film industries,” Dodd said.

The screening event was a joint event of the Motion Picture Association, the international arm of the film lobby, and China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film & Television. Universal Studios, AMC, the Asia Society and the China Film Group Corp., among others, are serving as partners for the upcoming week of film screenings.

“We are not here just to welcome you, which we are delighted to do, but to tell our friends from China that we want to grow with you as well, and similarly, we want to see Chinese films and Chinese co-productions playing more widely here in the United States and around the world as well,” Dodd said.

The MPAA, which includes Universal and Walt Disney Studios as members, has had somewhat of a rocky relationship with China over the years on the issue of online piracy.

The film lobby has pushed China to take more aggressive action against websites within the country that peddle illicit copies of the MPAA's member studios’ movies, as well as clamp down on people recording films with their video cameras in theaters.

Dodd told The Hill there’s been “some clear improvement” on the piracy front in China, though he was careful to add that it’s “not even close to where I’d like to see them” on the issue. He said the growth of the film industry in China has played a role in this recent improvement.

“It is getting somewhat better, and part of it is because now they’re producing more of their own product,” Dodd said.

Expanding the partnerships between the U.S. and Chinese film industries could help tackle the problem, he said.

“Those are further incentives, I think, for them to do a better job of shutting down the rampant piracy that’s existed,” Dodd said. “It is better today than it has been, but as I said, [it’s] still a long way from where it ought to be.”

Before Dodd’s remarks, NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer announced that the studio planned to open an office in Beijing that would be “the base” of its operations in China.

“At Universal, we recognize the importance of China as the fastest growing film market in the world and understand and appreciate the consumer demand for quality entertainment,” Meyer said.