While China and US fight over trade, Bollywood can beat Hollywood in China

While China and US fight over trade, Bollywood can beat Hollywood in China thumbnail
NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump’s trade war with China would mean potential financial losses and job cuts in the Hollywood industry as China might retaliate by curbing Hollywood films, says a Newsweek report citing industry experts. China’s state-controlled news outlet Global Times says this would present an opportunity for Indian cinema.

“Hollywood movies are part of the services trade, and the impact of the current trade tension will go beyond goods to other areas,” Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.

“Given the US-China trade friction and Chinese audience’s aesthetic fatigue toward American films, the Indian film industry will have greater opportunities,” Tian Guangqiang, assistant research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Global Times. “Indian films should take advantage of the US-China trade tension to appeal to Chinese audiences and cash in.”

Beijing allows screening of 34 Hollywood films in China per year. The number becomes significant if growth in Chinese movie ticket sales is taken into account. The sales grew by 22.3 per cent last year totaling $8.6 billion, according to the Newsweek report. China’s box office also passed North America’s to become the world’s biggest in the first quarter of 2018. The report says even films that perform poorly in the US have a chance of making up the difference in China. For example, half of the $433 million overall global box office earnings of the 2016 fantasy film ‘Warcraft’ were made in China. In the US, the film flopped, only raking in $47 million.

This indicates how big an opportunity US-China trade war can offer to Indian film industry. From 2016 to 2018, India exported just eight movies to China while the US exported 156, including those co-produced with other countries, according to data by entertainment industry information provider EntGroup Inc.

Indian films are a big draw in China due to cultural similarities. Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’ raked in nearly 1.3 billion yuan ($196 million) at the Chinese box office in 2017, according to the Xinhua news agency. Another Indian movie, ‘Secret Superstar’, topped the Chinese box office in the week ending January 28. In the past three years, Indian films have made a total of 2.79 billion yuan in China, according to EntGroup data.

“Given China’s huge market potential and the box office success of previous Indian films, the Indian movie industry will pay more attention to the Chinese market, and will expand its presence through a variety of ways like co-productions,” Tian told Global Times.



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